From Supermarkets to Sustainable Communities

Creating a Cosmopolitan Canberra


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-By Aleisha Parr

When Sam and Maria Tzanetos moved to Australia from their native Greece in the 1960s, Canberra was experiencing its first real growth spurt since its original planning phase. They seized this opportunity, establishing a variety of supermarket enterprises. As time wore on and their success in the retail industry increased, their family also grew to include three children – two of whom would eventually come into their own as the new co-managers of the Tzanetos Family Group.

With three distinct operations – Owmast Pty Ltd, Master Property Developments Pty Ltd, and TnT Projects Pty Ltd – the Tzanetos Family Group has not only been a part of the evolution of the “bush state” of Canberra over the last fifty years, but in fact, has been an instigating force in the development of its communities.
While Sam and Maria built up the strength of their business through the Owmast arm, with emphasis in the retail grocery industry, brothers Peter and Dennis have invested the future of the company in the residential property industry through Master Property Developments and TnT Projects.

A Personal Approach

As a family owned and operated business, the Tzanetos Family Group specialises in end-to-end development and construction projects, with all work completed in-house. The brothers feel that this personal approach offers their clients the utmost in quality and value. “Being not only the owner of the business, but also the person on the front lines of the construction every day, on site . . . we have a more personal manner to our construction projects.”

By taking on each and every aspect of their projects, Peter and Dennis Tzanetos are able to enhance their knowledge of construction practises while ensuring that every phase runs smoothly, on time and on budget. Says Peter Tzanetos of their process: “We can make quick on-site decisions because we don’t have to liaise with the client – we are the client.”

“We follow through things from the beginning to the end; nothing is ever handed to somebody else to manage, so we have a full understanding and a very encompassing idea of the project from beginning to end, which is where some developers can falter. When developers pass on the construction to another entity . . . their expectations aren’t always realised, but there is nothing you can do about it. They’ve got no control over the construction once they’ve placed it somewhere else.”
Currently, the brothers oversee one project at a time, with Peter taking on the Contract Management and Acquisitions and Dennis acting as both Foreman and Builder. Together, they share the workload, utilising local suppliers and labourers. Each project begins with a land purchase by Master Property Developments, an architect is commissioned for the development and a contract is made for TnT to manage the construction.

Forward Vision

“We’re a little bit progressive in our sites that we pick,” explains Peter, who prides himself on his forward vision of future trends within the industry. “We pick areas where other developments haven’t had the insight to move into yet. Of course, as soon as we move into this area, there’s already been another six blocks that have been sold and have had plans done for apartments. It’s a common thing that our company is one of the first to move into a street, and begin the trend, so I’d say that we’re trend-setters in medium to high density apartments. A lot of people see us then follow our lead.”

Indeed, significant deliberation is invested in each property selection made by Master Property Developments as the brothers are keen to enhance the neighbourhoods they go into by encouraging community activities. In particular, they like to select a location within walking or biking distance from a local suburban shopping centre so as to cut down on the use of cars as well as to help create a buzz around local retailers. “It’s a good cycle and creates a cosmopolitan vibe,” says Peter.

Before settling down in Canberra, Peter Tzanetos lived in apartments in Athens, Greece and Sydney, Australia. With an appreciation for the cosmopolitan vibe of those cities, Peter was excited to use his personal experience to tackle the sterile urban infill areas of the inner city suburbs of Canberra. As little as ten years ago, Canberra was a disconnected sprawl of suburban houses connected by vast highways, discouraging communal activities or nightlife. The city had become a ghost town, a weary corridor for Canberrans to pass through on their daily commute to and from work.

With an increasingly younger population choosing to stay in Canberra to work, the Tzanetos brothers were determined to change this trend and bring to the city the exciting and vibrant lifestyle they felt it deserved. “You can’t have urban sprawl forever, you have to eventually go upwards and centralise housing so you can cut down on commutes and pollution. It’s the way of the future . . .” explains Peter, “It’s a healthy thing to bring to a city and that’s why I’m such a strong proponent for high-density living. It brings people together and creates a vibrant lifestyle. Staying at home too much isn’t healthy for the soul.”

Creating Communities

Design considerations of every TnT build are all-encompassing and aim to create the optimal at-home experience, a difficult undertaking when building high-density properties. In particular, the Tzanetos brothers insist that the newly government regulated Green Star standards are met or exceeded. Considering the slight increase in cost for the brothers in relation to the major long-term savings for both the client and the environment as a whole, they are more than happy to provide numerous energy saving solutions including motion detecting lighting, solar panels, and water retention and irrigation systems. Additionally, all landscaping design is conceived by the brothers with respect to the specific needs of each unit, including environmental concerns such as ensuring sufficient shade or sunlight throughout Canberra’s harsh seasons. Each unit’s interior environment is also a high priority, and the brothers pay special attention to such concerns as noise pollution, generally including specific requirements for insulation and sound-proofing in the building by-laws.

In keeping with their promotion of communal living, the brothers also like to include simple luxuries in each build, such as swimming pools. Says Peter Tzanetos, “I think they do create a real communal relaxing area . . . not just for exercising, but also for sunbathing or chilling out on a weekend on the pool deck with a good book. That’s where you get to meet your neighbours.”

Ultimately, the brothers’ message is simple: “It has to be enjoyable. If people don’t enjoy living in apartments, then they won’t rent or they won’t buy them and they’ll look for other living environments and my products and my industry will suffer.”

Currently, the industry is thriving. The Tzanetos Family Group’s efforts in creating vibrant medium to high-density communities have been a great success and Canberra is emerging as an exciting place to work and live.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

June 1, 2020, 7:01 AM AEST