Until this week.
For the first time since the ASX traded the building in preference for 530 Collins Street in the early 1990s, the 23-level building will re-open, much to the delight of prospective office tenants, of which there is an abundance looking for CBD space.
The building, on the south-side of Collins Street and in a highly populated pocket of skyscrapers between Queen and Elizabeth Streets, will add 22,000 square metres of A-grade, environmentally sustainable office space to the Melbournes CBDs stock list.
Knight Frank director Michael Nunan is marketing the property, the first substantial lick of Collins Street office space to come onto the market (in the CBD grid, as opposed to Docklands) for some years.
Its a very well located building coming into the market while theres an extreme shortage of office accommodation, Mr Nunan told The Age. It meets the criteria tenants expect today including large floor plates and sustainability initiatives.
The building was built for the ANZ Bank in 1968 has undergone a full refurbishment. This included adding enclosed office space over the buildings forecourt, which added about 1500 square metres to the buildings overall size.
The entrance foyer is a modern mix of glass and stainless steel, with a dramatic water feature.
Mr Nunan said rents in the new building will start at about $300 per square metre.
The timing of a building launch couldnt be better for the two private investors who own the building, Ai Ong Mah and Siew King Mah, both registered as living in Melbournes eastern suburbs.
According to the Property Council of Australia, office vacancy levels in the Melbourne CBD have fallen from a peak of 26.64 per cent in 1993, to just 5.95 per cent today.
For A-grade CBD offices specifically, vacancy levels have fallen from 19.34 per cent to 7.08 per cent over the same period.
Knight Frank Research expects both A-grade, and overall vacancy levels to continue their downward spiral, steadying at a rate of less than 5 per cent early next year.
This office leasing environment, where demand for office space exceeds supply, has resulted in strong rent rises over the last 12 months in particular.
According to Knight Frank Research, A-grade rents now average around $300 per square metre after incentives (the rental discount offered to tenants). This compares to a rate of around $250 per square metre this time last year.
The former ASX office building at 357 Collins Street can command a higher rent given its location in a prime location in an established, and very much in demand Collins Street pocket near retail amenity and the Flinders Street train station.
Major tenants to sign for new buildings in the last twelve months include Australia Post which leased space at the SX2 office building on Bourke Street, Victoria Police which re-committed to existing offices in Docklands and the Australian Tax Office which will move to 414 LaTrobe Street.
Other tenants still in the market for CBD space include Fujitsu, which is looking for up to 6000 square metres of office space, Herald & Weekly Times (18,000 square metres) and engineering firm Connell Wagner which is looking for between 8000 and 9000 square metres, sources say.