How Aria have honed their craft over the last two decades

I recently caught up with Aria's longtime Development Director Brent Liddell, who was a founding member of Aria alongside Managing Director Tim Forrester and Chief Financial Officer David Marsland
How Aria have honed their craft over the last two decades
Aria's rooftop at Riviere, Kangaroo Point
Joel Robinson April 26, 2023

Aria Property Group have come a long way since their first multi-residential development on the Sunshine Coast in the early 2000’s.

While they're currently creating some of the best apartment developments in Brisbane, in both sustainability and design, the path Aria and its senior management has taken over the last two decades wasn't a particularly well-trodden one.

I recently caught up with Aria's longtime Development Director Brent Liddell, who was a founding member of Aria alongside fellow Development Director Michael Hurley, Managing Director Tim Forrester, and Chief Financial Officer David Marsland.

The trio all went to school with each other on the Sunshine Coast.

"Tim and I have never not worked together," Liddell says, having worked with Tim's dad in the first holidays out of school.

Tim's dad was property developer Rod Forrester, who co-founded the previously ASX-listed developer FKP Limited. They at one time was the biggest owner and operator of retirement villages in Australia and New Zealand.

Liddell said the experience they got at such a young age from Rod and senior figures in the development industry was invaluable. 

And while they spent the first six or seven years developing residential and industrial and even subdivision, everywhere from Ipswich and Caboolture and even the USA, Liddell says they learnt the hard way as they never became the master of anything.

"We call those the apprenticeship years," Liddell says.

The aforementioned "apprenticeship years" however came to an abrupt halt when the GFC hit Australia. It was then when Aria narrowed their focus just to Brisbane, and just to apartments.

Having grown up on the Sunshine Coast, their self-confessed lack of knowledge of Brisbane somewhat worked in their favour.

"We just sort of ended up here, but we never really understood the difference between north and South Brisbane as none of us were from there," Liddell recalls.

"South Brisbane had the art gallery's, Southbank, and all the transport infrastructure in place, but the prices were half the price of Fortitude Valley and New Farm. It never made any sense to us."

So Aria went on a spending spree in the early 2000's, and as the business grew, they decided to shift their focus primarily to Brisbane's inner south and create mixed-use project, and dispose of the rest.

They stake claim to the first completed project in Brisbane post the GFC in 2010, and haven't looked back. Since then they've ventured into the Gabba, Kangaroo Point, and East Brisbane.

Much like the GFC but not quite as challenging for Aria, the team were afforded a similar pause for breathe where they reviewed their next steps. And that next step was sustainability.

"Among the three of us we have something called BHAGs, Big Hairy Audacious Goals," Liddell says.

"We said: 'why not go on this quest for our fifth pillar of our developments as sustainability.'"

Aria had played with a few things over the years, trying out solar panels on the roof of projects, rain water harvesting and smart irrigation, double glazing, timers and sensors through our common areas, green walls and or extensive landscaping in every building.

"We knew we wouldn't see a huge return, but we also knew it was the right thing to be doing in the projects."

Their first cab off the rank with the new sustainability lens was Riviere in Kangaroo Point, which is due for completion in July.
How Aria have honed their craft over the last two decadesA render of the rooftop from Riviera. Image supplied
"It's as much as we've done on any project," Liddell suggests.
The whole roof is covered with solar. Energy harvested during the day is used through a battery at night. The lobbies are cross-ventilated, and each apartments features an innovative front door. Sitting in front of a regular front door is a mesh-like lockable door which allows breezes to come through the lobby and into the apartment.
There's 124 apartments across the 12-level building at 480 Main Street, as well as 2,150 sqm of residential amenity. Part of their sustainability initiatives, Aria disclose on every project how many trees and plants they use as part of the development to both reduce carbon emissions and bring more green to apartment living. Riviere utilised over 8,000. Aria projects will have over 100,000 plants and trees by 2032.
There's also Trellis, which is expected to be wrapped up mid this year. That has a facade which fully opens up, an interpretation of the modern Queenslander with a big verandah. Aria is hoping to offset 100 per cent of the electricity with solar at Trellis.
Construction timelines are around the same for Upper House, which will be a striking addition to the city skyline due to the "birds nest" roof.
The striking timber ribbons have been hoisted up to the top of the tower. They were made by a woodworker from Italy who came over to Australia for three months to install the ribbons.
How Aria have honed their craft over the last two decadesA render of the rooftop at Upper House Image supplied
Their most recent project is Canopy House. It had all the sustainability overlays too, sold extremely strongly at the end of last year and is now under construction.
They'll be launching the second stage of TreeHouse in the next few months, called Casamia, having secured the neighbouring site since selling out the initial Jane Street tower.
Aria has also just filed an application for a curved 30-level tower on Cordelia Street, just up the road from their Fish Lane Precinct where they developed the award-winning project, The Standard.

Joel Robinson

Joel Robinson is the Editor in Chief at, managing Urban's editorial team and creating the largest news cycle for the off the plan property market in the country. Joel has been writing about residential real estate for nearly a decade, following a degree in Business Management with a major in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University in England. He specializes in off the plan apartments, and has a particular interest in the development application process for new projects.

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