Journal Five Minutes With Maria Gray, Development Executive

Journal — April 25, 2023

Five Minutes With Maria Gray, Development Executive

Journal — April 25, 2023 Five Minutes With Maria Gray, Development Executive

Native Land is synonymous with high-quality, luxury residential developments in Central London with projects such as Holland Park Villas and Burlington Gate, both of which you worked on. What do you think sets Native Land apart from other developers?

 At Native Land, we believe that our developments reflect our team’s foresight and commitment to improving the lives of our occupiers. We take pride in providing state-of-the-art amenities and comfortable communal spaces that feel like an extension of your home or a top end hotel, and our projects set a benchmark in terms of design and quality. Our developments offer understated luxury, whether it’s the quiet and private Burlington Gate in Mayfair or the secure, luxurious    oasis at Holland Park Villas.

A lot of thought is given to every detail, and whilst we embrace technology and innovation, we are also firmly grounded by experience. Our management and aftercare teams play an essential role in providing feedback that informs the design and delivery of our future projects.

You have been involved across Native Land’s portfolio over the years, both on the after-sales aspect of luxury residential and more recently on the delivery of prime commercial real estate. How does your residential experience, for example at Holland Park Villas, benefit the work you do in delivering Arbor at Bankside Yards?

 At Holland Park Villas, my focus was on the mobilisation, strategic set up, and management of all streams of activity in the building during the period of occupation, up to the point of the Freehold sale. This involved overseeing the drafting of licenses for alterations and fit-out works management, including the drafting of complex licenses. I bring this experience and expertise to Arbor, ensuring that the building is delivered to the highest standards.

Arbor is a truly inspiring space, with incredible views, state-of-the-art facilities, and a multi-use exercise room. It epitomizes the height of luxury workspace and is designed to accommodate discerning customers with clear expectations, just as Holland Park Villas did. Arbor attracts top-tier organisations with a strong focus on sustainability, health, and employee well-being. Their workplace is meaningful and personal, like their homes, because it embodies their business identity and status.

Bankside Yards, Native Land’s landmark redevelopment of London’s South Bank, is an ambitious and complex project with eight new buildings being delivered. What excites you most about the development?

Bankside Yards is set to become a truly human-centric, sustainable, and resilient urban ecosystem. Its location means that it’s well connected via rail, tube, bus, and riverboat services, making it easily accessible for commuters. Its cultural surroundings, including the Globe Theatre, National Theatre, BFI Southbank, and Tate Modern, make it an ideal place to live, work and visit.

The development will provide a mix of flexible workspace, residential and hotel accommodation, as well as retail and a wide range of amenities to serve the community. As the UK’s first fossil-fuel free major mixed-use development, it is set to be a flagship part of London. The buildings will work symbiotically to maximise energy efficiency and reduce operational energy use via a low-temperature 5th generation network.

With the recent completion of Arbor and the rest of the development taking shape, it’s exciting to think how much life it’ll bring to the neighbourhood when it’s complete.

You have a background in International Peace and Security – how did you end up working in the property industry and how have you been able to apply learnings from your unique background?

It was a stroke of luck. I initially joined Native Land as a customer care executive to assist the team working at NEO Bankside, whilst one of our colleagues was on maternity leave. I have always had a passion for architecture and construction, and so I worked my way up from the customer care role and gained valuable experience in different areas of the business. I later completed a part-time real estate MSc at the University of Reading to further develop the skills I needed to advance my career.

I still draw heavily on the skills I developed prior to joining Native Land. Ultimately, delivering buildings is about understanding people and negotiating is part of our daily life. The ability to truly empathize with other people’s views and perspective, for instance, is a surprisingly useful problem-solving tool, in any context and discipline.

What have you been most proud of in your career so far?

Holland Park Villas has a great place in my heart – it was a challenging but incredibly rewarding project.  Handing over the reins of the development to the residents, though bittersweet, was a gratifying way to close the circle.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in property?

Build positive work relationships from the start, and nurture them along the way.

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