It’s not often you hear the words “property developer” and “heart” in the same sentence. But Daniel Grollo, CEO of construction behemoth Grocon, is trying to change that.
Grocon is the name behind many of Melbourne’s – and Australia’s – largest developments, including sites such as Rialto, Eureka, Crown Casino and 101 Collins, as well as Sydney’s Horizon, World Tower and Governor Phillip Tower. The company is currently in the middle of a less glamorous project in Melbourne – an 11-storey permanent housing complex for homeless people that they are building at cost price. Grocon has also made a commitment to do the same in Sydney, should the NSW State Government provide a site.
It’s often said that the simplest solutions are the most effective, and nowhere is this more true than in the quest to alleviate public housing. Founded in 1990, Common Ground New York begun with one simple mission: to end homelessness. They did this by building attractive, affordable housing with essential services on-site, an approach that has enabled over 4,000 individuals to overcome homelessness.
The cynic in me thinks that Grocon are just doing it for a bit of positive PR before they demolish some old lady’s heritage-listed house to build their next casino or skyscraper. But I don’t think that’s entirely fair. As Grollo said in last week’s AFR Magazine, there’s another incentive: “If we’ve left a good legacy behind from a social perspective, that only increases the value of our future opportunities.” And that’s smart business.
A developer with heart? Stranger things…