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18 Jul
New Perth towers signal returning confidence

With Gordon Bateup, Director ACORPP

Big developments could be heading back to Perth if announcements around two impressive flagship projects are indicators of things to come. Just last month the government gave the green light to a controversial $450 million twin tower high-rise development in Scarborough. That will see a 43-storey and a 33-storey tower rise up on the site including a 119-room hotel and 314 apartments. The top floor will include an art gallery and café and panoramic ocean and city views. Developer, 3 Oceans, has said it aims to begin construction next January. The project will create more than 2,000 jobs while the WA Tourism Council believes the development will inject $155 million into the state economy. Around the same time, oil and gas giant Chevron announced it would honour a pledge and forge ahead with plans to build a 29-storey office tower at Elizabeth Quay with some 52,000 square metres of flexible design work space. Brookfield has been announced as the developer and Multiplex the builder. The tower is expected to be completed in 2023 when Chevron’s lease expires at QV1.

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After a slow sector start to the first half of the year, these big-ticket projects surely underscore a returning confidence to the Perth commercial market space and provide a welcome boost to industry confidence. On a subject close to my heart, I believe we can reasonably expect, in the construction of these buildings, an incorporation of the latest innovations in sustainability and wellness, an area where WA has been lagging. Architects and designers tell me client appetite to pursue 4-star or 5-star Green Star ratings is muted and recommendations are only accepted “if they are easy”. I put this down to uncertainty and high vacancy rates. During times of economic restriction, people become very focused on keeping costs to a minimum and they view initiatives, like sustainability, as a luxury.

Conversely, they do see the value and a return on investment in offering existing and potential clients some “wow” factor, a ramping up of their building experience. End of trip facilities and other goodies are seen as major factors in attracting and retaining tenants. I understand the need and the appeal for those types of inclusions, but I think building owners should also look over the horizon at the momentum that’s gaining internationally and in the eastern states of the need for sustainability and building “wellness”. There’s no doubt this movement will be upon us and early adopting building owners will benefit from initiatives including solar, battery storage, photo voltaic capacity, natural light and low emission carpets and paint. Even simple adjustments can move projects toward 4 or 5 Star Green Star interiors. That’s a start. The thinking now should really be where and how can we push the limits in the pursuit of sustainability and wellness? It’s always better and less costly to plan for the future than to play scramble and catch-up.

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