It’s 10am and Fortitude Valley, the party of heart of Brisbane, is coming alive for the day.
Some of its most colourful characters won’t emerge for another 12 hours, but the Valley’s quirky off-beat charm is unmistakable – even during daylight hours.
Like so much of Fortitude Valley, tradition and modernity are stitched together – trendy cafes and boutiques mingle comfortably among the heritage listed buildings – the McWhirters Precinct, the Valley Pool, the Holy Trinity Anglican Church.
So it’s not at all strange to find Brooklyn on Brookes, an ultramodern 15 storey apartment building, right next door to a heritage listed red brick church, built in the traditional gothic style.
And the mix of old and new is also found inside Brooklyn on Brookes too.
Ben Messina is one of Brisbane’s youngest building managers and he employs the old fashioned spirit of customer service to the management of this building.
“Our residents here are younger, mostly under 30s, some students, some first time out of home, others are hospitality or retail workers,” says Ben. “They can relate to me so there is a great spirit of cooperation.”
“I thought I was leaving behind a sales role but as I’ve since learned, being a building manager is a lot to do with sales – particularly when you’re also managing the letting,” he says.
One of Ben’s first jobs was to organize rental of the 195 apartments, no mean feat for a newcomer to the industry and it was a job he successfully completed with the help of his team in three months.
Now his day starts at about 8am by checking the overnight e-mails and then it is a walking tour through the building casting his perfectionist’s eye over Brooklyn on Brookes. Then Ben will duck across the road to one of the trendy hole-in-the-wall cafes for a morning coffee where he will occasionally bump into a resident with the same idea in mind.
“When I answer all my e-mails, and return from my walk without anything to attend to, then that’s the point where I have a smile on my face,” he says.
Knowing your community is another secret to success – not everyone works in a nine-to-five world in the Valley, says Ben.
Ben doesn’t see being a newcomer to the industry as a disadvantage – in fact quite the reverse.
“I’m open to learning and drawing on the experience of other people, my father-in-law of course, but also Aaron our strata manager,” he says. “In many respects Aaron has been a mentor to me. He has been an invaluable source of information and he has set me up for success here.”
Aaron Jeffrey, one of SSKB’s senior community managers in Brisbane says he is delighted to take an active role to support building managers.
“Building managers help make everything in a strata community tick so I felt it was important to help build a support network among the building managers in my portfolio,” he says.
“I was able to introduce Ben to experienced building managers with a similar property profile to Brooklyn on Brookes and it’s great to see them meet and share information.”