Landlords across Australia’s major CBD office markets are going above and beyond when it comes to providing more amenity and services throughout their buildings than ever before. From third space offerings and wellness programs to tenant portals and new technology, we look at some of the innovative initiatives being implemented around the country.
SYDNEY: Landlords prepare for future by transforming office space
Despite a historically low vacancy rate, there is no doubt that Sydney CBD office landlords are preparing well in advance for the influx of square metres coming online from late 2021.
Shared meeting rooms, weekly exercise classes and designer soap products in End of Trip facilities are a certainty in the 2019 prime grade market, and the new decade will see a continued evolution in this “era of experience”.
“The NSW Government’s light rail infrastructure project has been the catalyst for a number of major ground floor transformations in larger assets such as AMP Capital’s 255 George Street,” Chelsea Anstee, Colliers International Office Leasing Senior Executive, said. “Sitting on the doorstep of the new Bridge Street light rail station, 255 George’s ground plane which extends around 1,500sqm, plus the added connection with the forecourt, will become an activated ecosystem that customers can use as an extension of their office.
“It will include a business lounge, roaming concierge, quiet areas, collaboration zones and a innovation hub that can be moulded into meeting rooms or conference and cocktail event space, along with a high-end food and beverage offering with outdoor dining.”
Above: Artist's impression of 255 George Street, Sydney lobby.
“Meanwhile, the Grosvenor Place management team have their finger on the cultural pulse and rarely let a special day on the calendar slip by without a celebration,” Ms Anstee said.” In addition to the Harry Seidler-designed legacy taking a key role in the annual Vivid Sydney Festival, owners Dexus, Mirvac and Arcadia ensure their customers mark big events in style. Management invite bespoke vendors in offering rose stalls on Valentines Day, champagne for the Melbourne Cup, luxury beauty brands on Mother’s Day, and popcorn and a big screen lobby installation to celebrate the Sydney Film Festival.”
Landlords Investa and Stockland recently opened their rooftop terrace on Level 6 at 135 King Street called ‘The Lounge’, which gives customers access to outdoor space in the centre of the city to host events, hold casual meetings or escape the desk for a bite to eat.
“151 Property has adopted Equiem to handle its traditional concierge and building management needs, which is accessible via app or phone to the 1 York Street community,” Ms Anstee said. “Tenants can order coffee from the lobby café ahead of time, have dry cleaning collected and delivered to their tenancy door and access great deals on movie tickets, health services and more. The platform enables customers to log building requests or feedback and even meet and greet other tenants in the building via the personalised profiles section.”
Ms Anstee said the Sydney CBD office market has witnessed a growing number of flourishing partnerships between institutional owners and flexible workspace operators, providing incoming tenants with flexibility of a few different kinds.
“Just three months into operations, GPT’s new Space&Co. facility at 580 George St has already enticed new and existing tenants on direct leases, as they have seen value in the large meeting room facilities and exquisite event space,” she said.
“The same can be said for Investa, whose partnership with WorkClub at 201 Kent Street has helped offer mixed amenity of meeting and training rooms as well as stylish function spaces, has helped secure new tenants on longer leases.”
MELBOURNE: Outdoor amenity in the CBD
Occupier experience is central to all new office developments. Globalisation has meant that talent is easier to find, and even easier to steal, which means landlords and employers need to create a space for staff to thrive, a place that they relish and enjoy.
The existing concept of ‘office’ doesn’t hold as much appeal to the millennial generation, who will make up 70% of the workforce in 10 years’ time. For this reason, and enabled by technological advances, we are seeing developers and landlords breaking the mould in new commercial precincts, integrating indoor and outdoor workspaces and prioritising staff wellbeing in new ways. The GPT Group is the perfect example of this expanded consideration in its permit approved development, Frame, in Melbourne’s CBD.
Frame, at 300 Lonsdale Street, will be the largest cross-laminated timber (CLT) commercial building in Australia once built. Built on top of iconic retail precinct, Melbourne Central, The GPT Group will incorporate unique wellbeing initiatives and flexibility to create a truly inspiring workplace.
Above: The GPT Group’s Frame development in Melbourne.
“The concept behind Frame is simple; to provide a future-thinking office building that occupiers truly enjoy, which both contributes to - and complements - its surrounds,” Charlotte Stratton, Head of Leasing – Office, at The GPT Group, said.
“This will be achieved via the inclusion of a sky lobby and connecting sky garden. This greenery juxtaposes the surrounding buildings and provides an oasis, for tenants to relax and work flexibly, enjoying fresh air and sunlight.”
The CLT structure is both functional and extremely beneficial for tenants, improving the mental wellbeing of staff within the building. Reminiscent of trees and the outdoors, the presence of timber is proven to lower blood pressure and calm inhabitants when used in interior design. The CLT structure will also be an impressive statement within tenant fitouts at Frame, providing strong foundation for interiors.
The GPT Group has considered tenant experience at Frame on every level, beginning with ground floor access arriving directly into the commercial sky lobby (by-passing all retail), integration with Melbourne Central Shopping Centre, as well as placement and access to the landscaped sky garden. These elements all create activation, drawing tenants and visitors up and into the lobby to provide seamless and enjoyable interaction with the building itself.
“Colliers has noted a significant increase in tenants requesting access to outdoor space and greenery in accommodation briefs. The GPT Group are pre-empting this with Frame and offering a dynamic solution which integrates the workplace, outdoor green spaces and destination retail,” Ben Christie, Colliers International National Director of Office Leasing, said.
“There is a considerable absence of elevated green space in Melbourne’s CBD, with Lendlease’s Melbourne Quarter Precinct (Docklands) and Frame (300 Lonsdale Street) contributing outdoor public realms to inject more greenery into the city centre for workers to enjoy.
“This engaging market-style terrace will further elevate the city’s dynamic offering, not only for the benefit of Frame tenants and staff, though surrounding workers and visitors.”
BRISBANE: Midtown Centre, an exemplar in urban regeneration
For the first time in Australia, developers Ashe Morgan and DMANN Corporation Pty Ltd are connecting and repurposing two existing buildings at 155 Charlotte Street and 150 Mary Street to create an engaging lifestyle and productivity precinct to meet the needs of the next generation workplace. Midtown Centre is currently under construction and will include restoration of the heritage facades, an activated retail laneway that links Charlotte and Mary Streets, 2,900sqm of landscaped and Wi-Fi enabled outdoor spaces which include a level 20 sky garden, balconies and landscaped terraces.
A new benchmark will be set for end-of-trip facilities, with 800 secure bike parks, 30 visitor bike parks, 580 lockers, 52 showers, laundry, drying room and bike repair station with its own entry and dedicated lifting. The 27-storey development comprises 44,000sqm of contemporary office accommodation that is PCA A-Grade with Premium-Grade lifting.
Above: Midtown Centre, Brisbane.
Midtown Centre will feature typical floor plates of 1,950sqm with podium level campus floor plates of 2,500sqm. The on-floor experience for occupiers will include abundant natural light with full height high performance façade, 3-level mixed-mode atriums, interconnecting floor options, on-floor changing rooms and showers, and high quality foyers and amenities.
“From a sustainability perspective, Midtown Centre is an exemplar in urban regeneration, and has been found to be more than 230% environmentally friendly by connecting and repurposing the two buildings rather than demolishing and a new build,” Project Director Michael Bruderlin said.
“Rio Tinto’s recent pre-commitment to 20,000sqm on levels 16-26 is an endorsement of the project and its focus on enhancing culture and productivity for its people.
“The building is so well connected to public transport options, retail amenity and riverside parklands. “Furthermore it will only be a two-minute walk from the Albert Street Station which is expected to be operational in 2024.”
ADELAIDE: Fortune will favour the brave
Adelaide is finally rebounding from the most challenging office market it has seen in the last two decades, and we are now seeing a notable increase in office commitment. This demand is coming from a range of sectors, most notably Defence, Aerospace, Resources, Tourism and the Creative Industries.
So, what do these tenants look for in a building? The workplace has changed,” Trevor Boddy, Colliers International Associate Director of Office Leasing, said. “It’s no longer merely a place of work, but rather a destination. We continue to see buildings adapting to meet the evolving needs of tenants.
“Maximising the workday experience for all occupants is a key priority for landlords looking to attract tenants to their developments.”
Health and wellness
Wellness is the ‘new green’ and is taking a similar focus to the Green Star rating system more than a decade ago.
“Tenant health and wellbeing are at the forefront of this design, which encompasses more than providing simple benefits to employees, such as adding bike racks into basements,” Mr Boddy said. “Many premium tenants such as BHP, PWC and HWL Ebsworth are now actively seeking these environments to attract and retain the best talent.
“Whilst there is immense value in the WELL Building Standard, many landlords are introducing ‘wellness’ initiatives into their overall offering without pursuing an official rating.
“A good example of this is Centuria Capital at The Conservatory on Hindmarsh. Centuria have included free weekly fitness classes for all tenants in the square through a partnership with F45 Training, as well negotiated discounted rates for healthy food and beverage offerings around their building. The internal stairwell is in the process of an upgrade, which will create an environment that encourages the use of the stairs rather than the lift.
“Simply put, landlords that invest in wellbeing see healthy returns.”
Community and sustainability
Sustainable office accommodation remains a vital component of tenant attraction and retention. In addition, community and social responsibility are becoming increasingly important to the modern day corporate.
“Tenants see great appeal in partnering with owners that share similar values, that help them deliver on the positive social outcomes they seek,” Mr Boddy said.
These measures can include:
“Charter Hall is an outstanding ambassador of initiatives such as these and actively seek opportunities to contribute to the communities in which they operate,” Mr Boddy said. “The local Adelaide team, for example, works closely with the Hutt Street Centre which provides meals and support to the homeless.”
Agility and flexibility
The co-working mentality is becoming ingrained in the real estate strategies of most corporates. Flexible workspace is not just for millennial freelancers or tech start-ups anymore. Large, multinational companies are increasingly integrating shared working spaces into their own environments. To remain relevant, commercial office buildings need to create spaces that attract people to connect and collaborate — both within the office and outside of it.
“Quintessential Equity acquired 431 King William Street in December 2018 and are now in the process of an extensive refurbishment program,” Mr Boddy said. “A key outcome is a repositioning of the existing lobby to create a third space that encourages people to connect and collaborate. By using creative seating arrangements, this space will cater to both formal and informal meetings.
Mr Boddy said buildings within both Adelaide’s CBD and Fringe office markets that were embracing this shift in occupier demand enjoyed substantially lower vacancy and downtime than those that do not.
Through carefully thought out repositioning strategies, progressive landlords can create agile and flexible spaces that deliver on wellness, sustainability and community,” he said. “It is a market that rewards the active landlord.”
Above: 431 King Street, Adelaide.
CANBERRA: Civic Quarter a game-changer for ACT office market
Whilst the ACT office vacancy rate is 11.1%, A Grade vacancy in the Civic precinct is much tighter at just 1.7%.
“This is the lowest CBD A Grade vacancy rate in the nation and the lowest it has been in Canberra for more than 10 years,” Aaron Bruce, Colliers International Associate Director of Office Leasing, said.
“Civic Quarter, with its innovative design, wellness initiatives and state-of-the-art facilities, will bring much needed private sector-oriented, A Grade office space with premium quality inclusions to Canberra and will be a game changer for the ACT office market.”
Currently under construction and being developed by Amalgamated Property Group (APG), Civic Quarter is a new landmark, 12-level office building in the heart of the Canberra CBD.
Above: Civic Quarter, Canberra.
The building has been designed specifically for companies ready to embrace the workplace of the future, with integrated building technology, flexible and efficient floorplates, 5-star NABERS energy targets, and business class amenities throughout.“Civic Quarter will incorporate market-leading initiatives including a dedicated base building tenant portal, which will allow tenants to access numerous building features and can be used to provide vital information to building occupants,” Mr Bruce said. “This will include everything from energy reports; a community noticeboard; café bookings; access to end-of-trip facilities; current weather information; and even to book meeting rooms in Civic Quarter’s Ground Floor Business Centre.
“Civic Quarter‘s ground floor business centre will provide a variety of flexible, state-of-the-art conference and meeting facilities with business centre bookings for occupants to be via concierge or the tenant portal. The business centre will provision a range of room types with flexible capacity, format and ICT interface.”
One of the clear points of difference developed into Civic Quarter will be its advanced tenant service amenities. Civic Quarter will be the first Canberra office building to offer a dedicated concierge service for the building occupants, a standard that many occupants currently enjoy elsewhere in other national office spaces.
By introducing the concierge coupled with added services such as daily linen towel service included as part of the luxury hotel-style end-of-trip facilities, our occupants will no longer envy their counterparts elsewhere around Australia.
Above: Civic Quarter, Canberra.
Civic Quarter has clear mandates to set new benchmarks when it comes to wellness and sustainability initiatives. The Building Services Network can incorporate specific tenant considerations including power over Ethernet light fittings or circadian rhythm lighting, driving workforce efficiency and wellness for occupants.
“Civic Quarter will also utilise industry-leading building analytics,” Mr Bruce said. “This powerful software will analyse the actual or real time data collected by base building sensors and evaluate the performance, comfort, energy, and maintenance data to identify prioritised areas for improvement and to validate repairs for optimal building performance.”
By maximising these sustainable energy initiatives and the introduction of best-in-class building management systems, Civic Quarter will promote savings across the board for tenants and landlord alike.
A consideration of all possible traffic outcomes has been incorporated into the base building design at Civic Quarter. Dedicated transportation pathways to EOT facilities and designated service corridors with rear access points have been incorporated into the base building design. This will assist to divert commuters, cyclists and service contractors away from the front-of-house building lobby areas. To enhance the ground floor lobby and business centre experience for tenants, their clients and visitors, tradespeople, bicycles and sportswear attire will have an alternative building access point. This second access provides an additional benefit of separating traffic volume in the lifts and maintaining lift efficiencies throughout the building.
PERTH: The upshot of a down market
Landlords in Perth’s office market are responding to the downturn in demand for office space with a suite of new amenities and tailored office fitouts to entice tenants.
Proactive landlords were the first to mobilise when WA’s resources boom began to taper off in 2013 and in the years since then, as other landlords joined the upgrading movement, the amenity line-up has become more comprehensive.
According to Colliers International Office Leasing Directors in Perth, Daniel Taylor and Dustin May, the upshot of Perth’s high vacancy has been the fast-tracking of the standard of accommodation in the city’s office market.
“High quality end-of-trip facilities were once seen as an extra but are now a standard feature in Perth’s premium, A and B-grade office buildings where landlords are striving to build in convenience and amenity,” Mr Taylor said. “The aim is to have a seamless experience for the user with features such as hair dryers, shoe-shiners, filtered water stations and a towel service now becoming standard.
“As a further point of difference by landlords, we are also starting to see amenity such as basketball courts, outdoor seating areas, BBQ roof decks and grooming and meditation rooms.”
Tenant convenience is also front and centre at Kings Square, a new office development at the western end of Perth City Link where a child care and a gym are included in the four-building complex.
The popular childcare centre means parents with prams, once a rare sight in peak hour pedestrian movements, have joined the morning and evening rush hour.
As well as building upgrades, Perth landlords are also embarking on fit-outs offering the convenience of a ready-to-go work spaces to secure tenants.
“With close to 13,000sqm of speculative fitted out office space in the CBD market, innovative ideas are required to stand out from the competition,” Mr May said.
“Prospective tenants may see eight or ten offices in a day so the one that has a point of difference will be the standout.”
Increased willingness of landlords to subdivide floor plates is also making it possible for smaller tenants to secure a foothold in the city, often with just a modest increase on the rent they were paying in the suburbs.
Above: Outdoor seating area at the base of 5 Mill Street, Perth.