Investa, Oxford apply to repurpose modernist office

The 27 level, 74,000 square metre office rejected for 105 Miller Street.

Investa and Oxford Properties Group are seeking permission to repurpose North Sydney’s c1957 MLC building as a build to rent asset before offering the property for sale.

Melbourne’s Communications House office (left) became The William apartments.

The investors and developers are making the most of a surprise decision in May by the NSW Land and Environment Court rejecting plans to replace the 14 level office at 105-153 Miller Street with one twice the height containing three times the lettable area.

The pair had only 10 months earlier convinced the authority to overturn a heritage listing over the B-grade building, proving it was invalid.

With 74,000 square metres, the end value of the proposed commercial tower circled $510 million.

The 6000 sqm site alone, also fronting Denison Street and a closed section of Mount once known as North Sydney Plaza, now Brett Whiteley Place, is speculated to be worth c$60m.

New plan

Designed by Bates Smart McCutcheon co-owner Sir Walter Osborn McCutcheon, the modernist MLC building was North Sydney’s first high rise block, containing 26,980 sqm.

Nowadays considered B-grade, it is one of six assets held by the Oxford Properties Partnership, worth c$2.3 billion.

Reconstructing the office was an exercise priced about two years ago at c$120m (story continues below).

Instead, the pair have this quarter submitted plans to refit the shell with 340 apartments.

An upcoming property listing is expected to be handled by CBRE.

Hengyi did it in Melbourne

Investa and Oxford are also establishing BTR product including in Sydney, over the Pitt Street Metro, and in Melbourne at Footscray and South Melbourne, the latter on a piece of the ex-JH Girls School.

In 2021 they introduced a management platform, Indi, expected to service what it expects will be c5000 Australian tenants.

The MLC building proposal comes a decade since Hengyi repurposed a 20 storey c1966 Melbourne office at 199 William Street – formerly known as Communications House – with 443 standard apartments, 86 serviced apartments, 12 retail tenancies, a gym, conference space and rooftop pool.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of