Developer Adrian Fini: Putting the heart back into cities

Adrian Fini is more a renaissance man than your average property developer. When he set out to turn around “ugly, impoverished suburbs” in Perth and Fremantle with integrated social housing in the early 1980s, he adopted an unusual strategy. He hired urban planners and architects, but adding some local youths to the payroll was not a standard ploy.

“We employed indigenous youth living in the suburb, adding to security and protection for the area.” In other words, if they were given a stake in their neighbourhood, they wouldn’t vandalise it.

Fini invited football player David Wirrpanda to kick a footy around with the kids in their local park. “We got up a program that could feed kids in post-school care programs. In some suburbs we helped fund the Positive Parenting Foundation, rolling it out and then handing the program over.

“We felt if we could improve a suburb, and still own part of that suburb, we’re better off.”

It appears to have paid dividends for the man who is one of Perth’s most successful owners of apartment buildings, retirement villages, boutique hotels and a brewery. First with Mirvac Fini and now heading his own company, FJM Property, he has spearheaded some of Perth’s most exciting redevelopments, most prominently the Treasury, a transformed historic building in the heart of Perth’s central business district with a five-star boutique hotel. His future plans include a two-tower building at Elizabeth Quay, Perth’s new waterfront, and revitalising the east end of Perth’s CBD.

Fini’s profile as a public advocate for better cities and a philanthropist saw him named 2016 West Australian of the Year, but even he admits his efforts come from hard-edged self-interest.

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