Leading property developer Jamie McClurg on shaping Adelaide’s skyline

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By Melissa Keogh

It’s a Monday afternoon and 46-year-old property developer Jamie McClurg is sitting in Commercial & General’s seventh floor boardroom, towering over some of Adelaide’s most prominent landmarks.

Admiring bird’s eye views of Adelaide Oval, Parliament House and Government House, the I Choose SA ambassador says people around the world look at our city with nothing but envy.

“South Australia is a place that will come of age in the next decade,” Jamie says.

“South Australians are smart people. They demand smart options that will enhance our community and job opportunities for our children and, as one of the best places to live in the world, our opportunities are endless.”

As executive chairman of one of Australia’s leading property developers, Commercial & General, Jamie has a solid grasp on the infrastructure that has helped shape our city.

Jamie McClurg is an I Choose SA ambassador for infrastructure.

His Adelaide-based property development and investment agency has developed and owned some of Adelaide’s big infrastructure projects from the SA Police headquarters to the sky high office tower at 50 Flinders Street.

The value of the projects Commercial & General has completed, as well as those currently underway, is $2.1 billion.

The company works across healthcare, industrial, office, residential and social infrastructure projects, and chances are if you’re an Adelaidean, you’ll recognise almost all of them.

Commercial & General is gearing up to build the last standout piece in North Terrace’s biomedical precinct.

Complementing the architecturally renowned South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) the second instalment, SAHMRI 2, will be home to the first proton therapy unit in the southern hemisphere.

Housed in a three-storey bunker in SAHMRI 2, the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research will allow doctors to directly treat cancerous tumours with minimal damage to healthy tissue.

The treatment will make a world of difference to people – particularly children – with tumours close to vital organs.

In 2017 Jamie travelled to Boston in the US, to see the effects of proton therapy at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

“It will change lives,” he says.

“While SAHMRI 2 is a piece of infrastructure, at the end of the day it’s an opportunity to cure cancer for kids … that’s something to be more excited about.”

An artist’s impression of SAHMRI 2.

Designed in collaboration with Adelaide-based architect Woods Bagot and other local and international agencies, Jamie says the $320m SAHMRI 2 building will complement, rather than compete, with the first.

“SAHMRI is iconic; we don’t want to repeat it because that won’t do it justice,” he says.

“It’s very important that we do it well to finish off the precinct because it’s the last missing tooth.”

Construction on SAHMRI 2 is expected to commence in 2019.

Another of Commercial & General’s current projects is the $300m Calvary Adelaide Hospital on the corner of Angas and Pulteney streets.

It is the largest single construction contract by the private sector to unfold in Adelaide’s CBD in the last 20 years.

However, Commercial & General’s impact on the city of Adelaide goes further than the large buildings that scrape its skies.

More than 3000 jobs have been, or will be, created in projects that are currently under construction.

“I try not to think about it like that because that’s a lot of families,” Jamie says.

“I started off this business just wanting to move some dirt, have some fun and earn a living like anyone else.”

Jamie’s rise to the top of SA’s property development scene started from humble beginnings.

Commercial & General executive chairman Jamie McClurg on site at the Calvary Adelaide Hospital.

Raised by Irish immigrant parents, he grew up in the northern suburbs, going on to obtain a construction degree at the University of South Australia.

With his father in the real estate industry, Jamie says a career in property was inevitable.

Working on construction projects across the country, he set the foundation for his own business in 1997 while still working for another company.

Alongside business partner and university classmate, Anthony Catinari, the pair created Commercial & General “from nothing”.

Now Commercial & General employs a team of 51 at its Adelaide office, with plans to expand its SA workforce by a dozen this year. It also has offices in Melbourne and Sydney.

The company recently partnered with ASX-listed property giant Dexus, creating the Healthcare Wholesale Property Fund. With seed assets of approximately $340m, it has an anticipated potential pipeline of about $445m.

Jamie says SA’s population and its “humble talent pool” make it the perfect place for investors to do business.

“In a state that is the size of ours, the opportunities are endless,” he says.

“South Australians have always been known as being unique people and world-beaters.

“If you learn to do it here you can apply it to anywhere around the planet.”

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

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