Retail tenants still awaiting compensation two months after Melbourne office building’s emergency closure

Retail tenants still awaiting compensation two months after Melbourne office building’s emergency closure
Retail tenants still awaiting compensation two months after Melbourne office building’s emergency closure

Blockades remain in place and some businesses closed at 447 Collins Street in Melbourne, as many tenants still wait for compensation for lost income.

A two-metre-by-one-metre marble panel fell from the Suncorp building into the forecourt, a popular lunch spot for nearby workers, on January 30, causing the City of Melbourne to issue an emergency order requiring the building to be cordoned off.

The building has since remained partially fenced off while the building’s owners, Industry Superannuation Property Trust, still continue work to remove and stabilise the remaining panels.

The blockade forced the temporary closure of many small retail businesses on the street level of the building as pedestrians could not access the shops.

Tenants met with the owners of the building to discuss compensation for lost business on February 10 but more than six weeks later just one tenant has received any payout.

The tenant of one business says she hasn’t heard anything about her claim.

“We’re still waiting. They say they’re working on it,” she says.

“We’ve given them out paperwork but we haven’t heard anything yet,” a neighbouring business owner says.

While some businesses were able to stay open, they did not have their regular street access and were only accessible through the corridors of the ground floor, which is accessible through the basement car- ark of the building.

“It’s been a hard time for us. People can’t see us from the street,” one business owner says.

ISPT chief executive Daryl Browning says the onus is currently on the tenants and many still haven’t lodged paperwork.

“We don’t just write blank cheques. That wouldn’t be the right thing to do,” he says.

“There’s no question about them not being paid. When they’re able to demonstrate how much they would be forgoing [they will be compensated].

“There’s no hidden agenda here, there’s no game being played with the tenants.”

Despite his hairdressing business being closed for six weeks, a retailer named Abraham remains upbeat.

“We’re happy enough. We just wish it was a bit quicker.”

“It’s just lucky no one was hurt. That’s the main thing.”

He was initially told his business would be closed for just two weeks but the Flinders Lane pavement remained blocked for six weeks.

“It’s hard to say how much business we’ve lost. People will just go somewhere else.”

All the panels from the Flinders Lane side of the building have been removed, and work continues on the other sides of the building.

“At the moment they are simply being stabilised,” says Browning.

“Further decisions and discussions will take place in the future.

“The priority is to get it stabilised.”

Browning says there is no definite date for when fencing would come down.

ISPT is one of the largest property funds in Australia, managing $7 billion worth of investments. In Melbourne it owns 500 Bourke Street, Casselden Place, 114 William Street, Melbourne GPO, 474 St Kilda Road and 50 Lonsdale Street.

ISPT bought 447 Collins Street for $81 million from AXA in November 2004.

 

 

Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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