Burbank Urban enlivens medium and high density developments with style, sustainability, and strong skill sets.

City living has a different beat, an uptempo flow, and a near mystical pull for those who are tuned into the rhythm. And when it comes to developing stylish dwellings for today’s metropolitan homebuyers, Burbank Urban moves to that beat like no other.

The Melbourne-based developer is working on some of the most visually arresting, thoughtfully designed and appointed multi-unit properties in Victoria, leveraging multi-disciplinary expertise to bring the benefits of chic urban living to eager owners looking for alternatives to traditional detached homes. Specialising in high quality townhomes, apartment complexes, mixed use developments, and urban renewal projects, Burbank Urban brings an impeccable pedigree to bear on the creation of cool spaces in hot areas.

As a developer in their own right, Burbank Urban have a strong grasp of the key drivers required to deliver successful property developments and regularly impart this knowledge to developer clients to exceed expectations.

Their parent, The Burbank Group, comprises Burbank Homes, one of the nation’s top detached home builders with a 30-year history of excellence, so it stands to reason they have set Burbank Urban up for great success as a multi-unit shop. As Jarrod Sanfilippo, Managing Director of the Burbank Group put it, “We provide medium and high-density options and opportunities for customers, and also create partnerships with other developers. Essentially, we’re extending the assurance that comes with the history of The Burbank Group and what it's done for the past 30 years.”

Michael Battistella, the firm’s GM of Projects, added, “We’re a new brand backed by the big brands, but we are a separate part of the business. Ours is a different team and form of delivery, but our shared expertise is significant as we take on growth at scale.”

Building a Brand

The offshoot is rapidly breaking new ground. At roughly six months old, the firm has six active projects in various stages, comprised of over 320 dwellings. “We do fully integrated buildouts. Everything is predesigned, approved, and delivered as a ready-to-live in, turnkey product,” said Ilya Iliadis, Burbank Urban’s GM of Developments. Burbank Urban takes ownership of each project and development and uses the Burbank Group’s, affiliated companies, to further unlock value for all stakeholders.

“We control the design, we control the marketing, sales, and branding, and we can control the delivery and customer expectations,” he went on. “That approach helps us with our brand reputation and gives us leverage for the next project. Having said that, three quarters of our current work is done with partners who are the developers. We are a building partner of theirs, and also partner with the major public companies in Australia as well as some significant private companies. We are tendering a lot; it’s a great steppingstone for us to be preapproved on a panel and to be invited to tender. We’re often shortlisted quite automatically.”

Iliadis added, “There’s an assumption that you can deliver medium and high-density projects in the same way as you do detached housing, but it doesn’t work that way. We’re set up specifically to work in our space, and that’s a big point of differentiation from generalists.” The power of the Burbank Group and the supply chain that comes with it gives the venture a formidable boost as it operates independently, achieving success with fantastic backing.

Consider some of the up-and-coming projects, such as Cirq, a series of two- to three-storey, three-bedroom town homes with large open floor plans that Burbank Urban is building for Development Victoria. Another marquee undertaking is St A, developed by Cedar Woods and built by Burbank Urban. St A consists of 108 two- and three-storey, three- and four-bedroom, front- and rear-loaded townhouses, which are being delivered in five stages.

“We’re set up better than others to deliver the product at a better price, we have immense capacity and willingness to work with clients to achieve outcomes,” he continued. “We’re trusted, so whether they are clients or end users, people know they're in good hands with us. We are committed to securing Infill sites in Melbourne’s inner-to-middle ring. This will allow us to showcase our design and superior delivery quality. There is a real opportunity to create a lasting legacy in these unique urban settings and we want to be on the forefront of that."

Rethinking Innovation

It’s a buzzword that gets thrown around indiscriminately, but Burbank Urban’s take on innovation is hardly trendy. It’s about being one step ahead and future-ready while executing in the moment. “Given the nature of the scale of the work and complexity of delivery we have to remain as efficient as possible,” Battistella said. “Hence, that makes us look ahead at what's available in terms of materials, product, and methodology. Can we build it more easily more quickly and more cleanly? The clean part is coming in loud and clear now.”

Sustainability is a fierce focus for the team. “We look at the lifecycle of product, and the embodied energy in the product because a lot of our jobs require us to provide scorecards relating to the product throughout the build cycle.” Embodied energy, the total amount of energy used in every aspect of the build process, including the processing, manufacture, and delivery of building materials, is carefully considered in energy efficiency scorecards.

Scorecards also focus on simple and effective energy-saving products such as solar panels, solar generation, double window glazing, and concrete composition and density.

“In addition to that, it makes us aware of the latest technology. We apply this by working with key partners like Boral. They have R&D teams, and they’re always trialing and profiling new innovative technology in their products and materials, and we are on the forefront of using them if we wish,” he added.

“We are pushing boundaries beyond what regulations require, and we’re trying to find the next thing to get us to a higher level. We balance that with remaining competitive, and we sell on quality, price, and value. That’s a great value proposition that our customers want.”

Defining Innovation

At the tail end of 2019, the firm won the UDIA Medium Density Development Award for Excellence in 2019 for their Verse Townhouse development in Dandenong. The high-end three-bedroom townhomes, priced between $510,000 to $557,000, sold out within three months of release. “That’s an example of where we want to head to in the builder/developer space. That project has been instrumental in putting us at the forefront of consideration for some of the jobs we’ve won,” Iliadis said.

Two of the firm’s developments, RiverEdge in Werribee and Cumulus in Dandenong, require creative solutions for residents with disabilities. Said Iliadis, “It’s a case of not doing things the expected way but finding ways to create inclusion and integration to foster social diversity. Those deals aren't the kind you can just pull off the shelf and reference. They’re deals that need to be carefully structured, showing our willingness to go beyond the expected to deliver more well-rounded and diverse outcomes. That's how I define innovation.”

Of course, the platform for such successful novel approaches is made of strong skill sets. “We're very diverse; we're not just a bunch of builders. We’re development managers, project managers, marketers, salespeople—we’re dealmakers. There's a lot of diversity in the skill set and that's what is propelling us forward at the moment,” he added.