CSL signs Melbourne’s largest office pre-commitment deal this year

Biotechnology giant CSL will relocate its global headquarters to the top end of the Melbourne CBD, following the city’s largest lease pre-committed deal this year.

Interestingly, the state government and University of Melbourne co-announced plans to potentially redevelop CSL’s outgoing Parkville site as an employment hub – specifically, a biotech and innovation precinct.

CSL chooses 645 Elizabeth Street

Artist’s impression of the 645 Elizabeth Street entrance.

CSL will relocate to a 16-level, 35,000 sqm office at 645 Elizabeth Street – part of the Elizabeth North precinct which will include three towers delivered over three stages.

The 645 Elizabeth Street land is currently part of the Melbourne City Toyota dealership and is within the Parkville biomedical precinct, just south of the Haymarket roundabout.

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (front) is one of the newest buildings in Parkville’s bio-medical precinct.

Elizabeth North is being developed by PDG Corporation which is headquartered at nearby 501 Swanston Street – the old Ansett building.

“The medical research cluster centred around Parkville, comprising the University of Melbourne, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the Doherty Institute for Infectious Disease, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Royal Women’s Hospital, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Royal Children’s Hospital, amongst other institutions, is considered a world-class precinct and a significant research presence in global terms,” CSL chief executive officer and managing director Paul Perreault said.

“The new facility will foster and support collaborations between academic biomedical research and industry, creating important linkages in the ‘benchtop to bedside’ translation of new medicines for unmet medical needs”.

“CSL’s collaborations within the precinct span more than a hundred years.

“We have opportunities all around the world and R&D in several countries, but we believe the density and quality of medical research activity in Parkville has enormous future potential.

“As we continue to strengthen our long-term collaborations with strategic partners we intend to grow these networks by further embedding key elements of our Australian operations into the nucleus of Melbourne’s medical research district,” Mr Perreault said.

“The move will also bring key elements of our Australian operations together, fostering stronger internal collaboration,” Mr Perreault said.

The headquarters is due for completion in 2024.

“The company will maintain its presence at the Bio21 Institute which currently accommodates 130 CSL researchers,” a company said “while Seqirus influenza and antivenom manufacturing operations will remain at the Poplar Road campus for the foreseeable future”.

The building

A three-storey art deco warehouse (pictured, below, centre) will be razed to make way for CSL’s headquarters which will be configured as offices and laboratories.

This warehouse at 645 Elizabeth Street (centre) will be razed for CSL’s headquarters.

About 800 employees will be based at 645 Elizabeth Street – the largest and middle of three buildings master-planned to be Elizabeth North.

“The company will maintain its presence at the Bio21 Institute which currently accommodates 130 CSL researchers,” a company said “while Seqirus influenza and antivenom manufacturing operations will remain at the Poplar Road campus for the foreseeable future”.

Elizabeth North

The $750 million Elizbeth North project will be developed on a 7000 sqm site currently configured as:

  • the historic Art Deco former Melford Motors showroom now occupied by Melbourne City Toyota at 611-681 Elizabeth Street (two buildings, being stage one and two of the redevelopment), and
  • a neighbouring Bob Jane T-Mart outlet at 683-699 Elizabeth Street (stage three, which agents are now leasing).

Upon completion it should contain about 75,000 sqm of commercial space.

The Parkville train station, under construction as part of the $11 billion Metro Rail Project, is in the vicinity.

In April, we reported that the University of Melbourne’s Trinity College signed a 10-year lease for 9500 sqm – or nearly half – of Stage one – affecting the site south of 645 Elizabeth Street.

Elizabeth North will include laneways which “will also act as a thoroughfare link between the health and education precinct and the Melbourne CBD”.

Outgoing Poplar Road site

CSL’s outgoing headquarters is at the top of Parkville, between Melbourne Zoo and Park Street – about three kilometres north of 645 Elizabeth Street.

It is near the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre, which is earmarked for residential redevelopment in the medium-term.

Interestingly, the state government and University of Melbourne co-announced with CSL last week “an intention to commission a feasibility study to maximise the jobs and economic development potential of Parkville similar to powerhouse biotech and innovation precinct developments elsewhere in the world”.

PDG Corporation

Melbourne based PDG Corporation, headed by Vince Giuliano, has appeared in the property press more so than usual this quarter.

Last month it paid the City of Melbourne $16.5 million for part of Southbank’s former JH Boyd Girls School, which is earmarked for a major apartment skyscraper with 1000 sqm of space for community use.

In June, Mirvac agreed to pay PDG $333.5 million for a controversial and unbuilt property abutting the Queen Victoria Market: a residential development with 490 build-to-rent apartments.

PDG is currently marketing a West Melbourne residential project at 268 Adderley Street containing apartments and 18 townhouses.

PDG’s flagship residential development is arguably Southbank’s Prima Pearl tower – which stares up William Street. In commercial circles, the developer repurposed the high-profile former Ansett headquarters at 501 Elizabeth Street, which also acts as its headquarters.

Marketing agents

Colliers International’s Edward Knowles and Michael Darvell are marketing Elizabeth North.

The agents have secured commercial tenants for 60,000 sqm of the project.

The historic former Melford Motors building in Elizabeth Street will be retained and re-occupied by Toyota as part of PDG’s master-planned multi-tower redevelopment.

CSL’s 35,000 sqm commitment of the entire middle tower forms stage two of the leasing stage.

Stage one resulted in the 9500 sqm Trinity Collage lease. Toyota also committed to re-occupy the Melford Motors building (pictured, right).

Mr Knowles said the third leasing stage is set for a public launch in coming weeks, but is underway.

“Already we’re experiencing strong demand for the precinct”.

“Stage three will comprise the tallest commercial building earmarked for the northern corner, directly adjacent to the hospitals and Parkville Station” Mr Darvell said.

CSL’s statement:

With the state government and University of Melbourne, CSL published this statement about the 645 Elizabeth Street pre-commitment.

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Marc Pallisco

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