11 May 2020
Sky’s the Limit for Retirement Living
Project Manager, Tony Kiernan talks to us about the recently opened Long Tan Village, the first vertical aged care and retirement living facility for RSL LifeCare. Located in the Newcastle CBD the $68 million, state of the art village includes 76 two-bedroom plus study independent living units and Peter Badcoe VC House, a 60-bed residential aged care facility offering 24-hour care.
Tony joined TSA in 2016 and has been involved in Long Tan Village since its inception. He was responsible for the overall management of the project including site acquisition, design management, community engagement, planning pathways, procurement strategy advice, stakeholder management, cost management, value engineering, securing approvals, contract procurement and contract management.
Tony has proven skill at motivating teams, building relationships and driving project momentum through collaboration and teamwork. His experience demonstrates the ability to lead, manage and direct diverse design and delivery teams on unique projects as well as managing and maintaining relationships with client and project stakeholders. Tony is valued by clients for his honesty, reliability, candid and up-front in his approach, and total commitment to achieving their goals.
Tell us about the RSL LifeCare project and about the team you were leading.
The RSL LifeCare Newcastle project is a 14 storey vertical aged care building. It’s quite a unique development, capturing all the benefits of retirement and nursing care in the one building where traditionally they would have been on a separated large site. This development brings them together in one urban village way.
What role did TSA play in the partnership?
This project developed out of a long relationship with RSL LifeCare. But this one was unique for them in that we were delivering a whole new development all in one hit, one solid spend. It’s a new kind of venture for RSL LifeCare so we were engaged to help them to help anticipate what was needed from a strategic, operations and staffing point of view.
What was the original vision for the project?
A developer found a master site down the West end of Newcastle and put some concept drawings together. The vision was to create an urban village for the aged care space. There had been a couple of new developments in this area before us in Queensland and Victoria, but it was only in its infancy in NSW.
How have the team collaborated to create quality results?
There were a number of consultants, developers and funders involved. The project has a really local feel to it. Everybody had a vested interest in the outcome because it sits in the centre of town. It’s one of the 3rd or 4th tallest buildings in Newcastle, so it’s quite iconic. There’s a public art element to it also, which is quite exciting. It’s going to be a new meeting place for the community. So the team is proud of the work they have done. It’s going to be a real lynch-pin for that part of the city.
How have you fostered collaboration and teamwork on the project?
We’ve leveraged that sense of ‘local’ connection to create a positive dynamic, where people are very responsive, so the project has gone really well. We’ve never had to fight for information flow as all the team was very willing to serve the actual job. They sense a very real and tangible connection to the project. The team know and understand the bigger picture. Our role is to help people not lose sight of what the client wants.
Given we’ve been on the job long, we’re often looked to for guidance. We’ve ended up being the ‘memory’ of the project, nurturing all the little lessons along the way, and applying them forward. In fact, I view our role as being a bit of a conscience on the job, where we help remind people not to deviate from where we were heading from the very beginning.
What is the reason behind TSA being asked to drive more projects of this nature for RSL LifeCare?
Its because there was no line between TSA and RSL LifeCare. We’re a real guiding hand I suppose. We’re honest. We check-in. Not in some smarmy business kind of way, but in a genuine desire to protect our clients’ interests. That’s been fostered over a long period of time. It’s this trust that’s grown over years. You know it’s of course not all simple or easy, but we keep working on making the relationship better and better.
How would you describe what you achieved on the RSL LifeCare project?
I really like the ‘chaos theory’ of jobs. That at the start of a job you’re simply trying to get it out of the whirlwinds and get it going in a certain direction. The start of this job was challenging. We did a fair bit of strategising on this project, a complicated mapping exercise to move the project forward, and at times, put up the flag and say, no, let’s just pause and think for a while.
What are some of the common traits of the TSA team?
The people at TSA are fair and reasonable. We have a collaborative approach. It’s a team effort. It’s a bit cliche, but in this kind of job, you need it because if you start getting people locked into silos, digging in their heels, you can easily lose track of the big picture. Any one individual can only know so much. But if teamwork is there, with a shared responsibility, the project can pull off anything.
We’re approachable, friendly and passionate. We have a fair bit of self-autonomy, which I think fosters a real sense of responsibility and ownership. I’m looking forward to the future, I genuinely hope we’re still seen as a company that is very approachable, with no red tape, and continuing with open access to all of the team.
With Long Tan Village now complete Tony is now working on the Leagues Club Field Regional Playground in Gosford for the Hunter Development Corporation.
For more information on the project visit the RSL LifeCare site.