Charter Hall’s $1.5 billion two-tower Melbourne CBD office complex approved

William Pitt’s grand Federal Coffee Palace (left) was developed in 1888 but demolished in 1973 for Enterprise House (right), which is now being razed to make way for Charter Hall’s project.

Charter Hall has received planning approval to build a $1.5 billion commercial complex at the south west corner of Collins and King streets, in Melbourne’s CBD.

The proposal will see two low-rise offices on neighbouring sites at 555 Collins Street and 55 King Street replaced with moderately taller ones, both premium (the best) quality, flanking retail.

A pedestrian laneway connecting Collins Street and Flinders Lane will also be created.

Charter Hall’s proposed complex will contain a 34 storey tower fronting Collins Street and 28 level building off Flinders Lane. Both will flank the western side of King Street opposite Rialto Melbourne.

All up the development will contain 84,000 square metres of office area, about the same as the landmark Rialto complex across the road at 525 Collins Street, at the south east corner of King Street.

Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne signed off on Charter Hall’s proposal after it received unanimous support from the Future Melbourne Committee and Lord Mayor two months ago.

Charter Hall said it planned to hold the assets, penned with the local Cox Architecture and Sydney-based Gensler, long-term.

Its approval comes in the same week Mr Wynne ticked off on another project which council did earlier this year: that site, in Southbank, is earmarked for a 356-metre c100-storey apartment complex set to be Australia’s tallest skyscraper.

Across town, the politician also approved Dexus’ premium 60 Collins Street office which will replace the Reserve Bank of Australia building at the north east corner of Collins and Exhibition streets.

The new 555 Collins Street

First cab off the rank for Charter Hall will be 555 Collins Street – a 34 storey building with 50,000 sqm of office area and 2300 sqm of retail.

At the south west corner of King Street the complex will replace the 24-level Enterprise House, built in 1973 on the site of William Pitt’s grand Federal Coffee Palace and for decades owner-occupied by the state government.

When Charter Hall acquired this c2300 sqm parcel for $140 million, in October, 2018, it had been earmarked for a 91-storey apartment complex and hotel.

The office, it said, will be “future proofed…with world-leading tech-enabled workspaces, health and wellness facilities”.

Lower levels will be configured with a market hall, amphitheatre for tenant activation and events, allied health services, food and beverage offerings and “third spaces” – flexible working areas for Charter Hall’s tenant customers.

Demolition of Enterprise House is almost complete leaving construction of the new building to commence in June and end by late 2022

Colliers International’s Tony Landrigan and Edward Knowles with JLL’s James Palmer and Alexandra Harper are the leasing agents.

The next 55 King Street

Charter Hall isn’t focusing on the redevelopment of the second tower yet: the landlord to several state and federal government departments presumably wanting to give the biggest occupant at 55 King Street, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal time, time to find a new base (VCAT issued a 20,000 sqm leasing requirement late last year suggesting it could relocate between 2020-2022).

But the 2335 sqm parcel at the north west corner of Flinders Lane is mooted for a 28-level structure containing 34,000 sqm of offices.

Charter Hall paid $78.5 million in 2016 for 55 King Street: an eight-storey complex with 12,408 sqm of space refurbished just two years earlier.

One block north of Flinders Street, upper levels of the replacement 55 King Street would offer south facing view glimpses capturing the Yarra River, Southbank, Albert Park Lake and Port Phillip Bay.

Charter Hall Office Fund will add asset to $6.9 billion portfolio

Charter Hall Group managing director and chief executive officer David Harrison said the project should create about 2000 Victorian construction jobs.

Upon completion the assets will be be retained by Charter Hall Prime Office Fund, which holds a portfolio of investments worth $6.9 billion – including the Wesley Place project at Lonsdale Street in the Melbourne CBD.

To deliver 555 Collins Street, Charter Hall regional development director Simon Stockfeld said, “we have brought together a globally connected and best-in-class team, leveraging and building on…experience in creating premium grade, technology enabled workplaces”.

The executive points to the recently completed GPO exchange building in the Adelaide CBD as an example.

“The result [for its Melbourne project] will be a workplace environment like no other, that puts the user experience first at all touch-points,” Mr Stockfeld said.

“Being both the developer and long-term owner allows us the unique opportunity to closely engage with our tenant customers on a regular basis to understand their evolving needs and expectations.

“By putting them at the centre and encouraging an active partnership model, greater community, innovation and a better workday is ultimately created”.

Balconies will be available for office occupants

The steeped design of the buildings allows for the upper levels to have outdoor balconies.

Tom Owens, principal and managing director of Gensler Australia, said the development team “put a lot of thought into how this building will foster connections and ensure that it is capable of adapting to the ever-changing needs of the next generation workforce”.

Cox Architecture director Simon Haussegger added the design focus was on creating “a platform for social, collaborative and creative experiences that promote human engagement”.

“The built form and façade expression allow the building to be read at pedestrian level, city and skyline scales,” he said.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.

Marc Pallisco