Q+A with Pace's new development manager Georgia Willis

Laurence DragomirNovember 9, 20170 min read

Pace Development Group has been busy in recent weeks with the appointment of Georgia Willis as its new Development Manager, while also launching its Pace of Abbotsford apartment development. 

The 133-apartment building designed by SJB Architects at 247 Johnston Street will be anchored by the retained art deco façade of Saint Crispin House, drawing on the architecture of the heritage fabric with light coloured materials employed as a backdrop for operable metal screens that will create a dynamic façade that responds to solar access.

The 11-storey development will comprise a mix of one, two and three bedroom single level apartments and a series of multi-level townhouses with construction of the project scheduled to commence by the end of the year and completion anticipated during mid-2019.

Q+A with Pace's new development manager Georgia Willis
Pace of Abbotsford with the retained facade of St Crispin House. Image: Pace Development Group

Georgia Willis, Pace's newly appointed development manager, brings 20 years of industry experience working for Government and private developers such as Caydon, Mirvac, Places Victoria and VicTrack. Georgia was awarded the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Women in Leadership award for 2016 recognising her professional contribution to the development industry.

I am fortunate that through my work on Caydon’s Malt District, I have almost met with every consultant in town! This was of huge benefit to my position in the industry and I’m excited to introduce Pace to those relationships and build valuable connections where Pace has not had a strong presence in the past.

- Georgia Willis, Development Manager

Q+A with Pace's new development manager Georgia Willis
The 20m infinity pool as part of Pace of Abbotsford. Image: Pace Development Group

What attracted you to your new position of Development Manager at Pace?

I have always maintained a keen interest in watching other developers and how they each uniquely innovate the marketplace. Pace is a business I have admired and respected for some time, so when I was contacted by Shane about the Development Manager role, I was immediately interested.

Pace’s strategy has always been very clear to me. Their passion for the Melbourne market is a huge credit to them, and their commitment to delivering iconic buildings that will leave a legacy in this city demonstrates enormous integrity. I strongly ascribe to this vision and feel that it aligns perfectly with my own personal brand and career aspirations.

Can you provide an overview of your position at Pace?

Given that Pace has come from a construction background, their level of technical expertise is unrivaled in the industry. My role has been introduced to bring further sophistication to their front-end development function – in particular leveraging my experience across government projects and the associated relationships I have built.

Forging these relationships between Pace and critical government stakeholders at a state and local level will evolve Pace’s pre-development activities, and ultimately the timely approval and delivery of our projects.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role as Development Manager at Pace?

I’m very excited to pioneer strong female leadership at Pace. There is already great diversity and a powerful level of thinking in the organisation, so I look forward to being a mentor for other great female talent coming through the ranks.

I’m looking forward to driving a more coherent stakeholder management strategy that leverages the value that already exists in the Pace brand, to really put us in the driver's seat on government tenders and commercial partnerships to deliver outcomes we can be truly proud of, that make a broader economic and social contribution.

Where do you see the property market heading?

I think the residential market is as strong as we have seen it. While the property bubble is a constant discussion point, this relates to only concentrated areas of the market.

The reality is that Pace aren’t dealing with a micro market - we are dealing with a macro market, and there’s always going to be a strong demand for quality designed and constructed, affordable housing in areas that people want to live in.

With Pace’s diversification into other development types such as townhouse estates, what will you bring to this new strategy and how will draw on your past experience?

Pace has built a formidable reputation in the boutique area of the market through their existing developments. However, with the move into large-scale precincts, there needs to be a greater emphasis on placemaking and on branding, not just at a developer level, but at a suburb and community level.

This work needs to commence in advance of when a project is scheduled to launch, to build desirability and demand around areas before we even have a product to offer the market.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.
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