Suncorp to remain short-term tenants of ISPT’s façade-damaged Melbourne CBD office building

Nine months after a tile fell from its façade forcing the closure of retail stores, a protective barrier remains around ISPT’s façade-damaged 447 Collins Street office tower.

The future of the 20-storey Godfrey & Spowers-designed office building, built in 1965, remains uncertain with ISPT committed to repairing the façade but also seeking to redevelop the building.

It remains tenanted in part by Suncorp, which also owns the naming rights to the building on the corner of Collins Street and William Street in the Melbourne CBD. 

However, pedestrian access remains blocked, with barriers erected on three of the four sides.

Daryl Browning, chief executive officer of ISPT, tells Property Observer the building will remain tenanted by Suncorp until mid-2013.

“Some works will be undertaken on the facade over the next six months as agreed with Melbourne City Council,” says Browning.

A spokesperson for Melbourne City Council confirmed that ISPT have applied for a building permit “for the installation of a system that will secure the panels and enable the public protection to be removed”.

“The first stage of the permit will address the western side of the building.  A second stage permit will then be required for the remainder of the building

“The documentation is currently being assessed for compliance with the relevant regulations, codes and standards.  Barriers and traffic management installed to protect the public will remain in place until the works are complete,” says the spokesperson.

Part of the façade has been removed entirely, exposing the grey concrete behind it, while the other parts of the facade are held in place by a steel framework.

The building forms part of ISPT’s Core fund, one of the Australia’s largest unlisted property funds, with a valuation as of September 30 of $6.8 billion.

According to the 2012 ISPT annual report, the building is one of a number that are earmarked for future development.

The report does not provide any information or update regarding the damage to the façade, which forced Melbourne City Council to issue an emergency order and the protective barriers installed.

ISPT has approval to build a Buchan Group-designed 11-storey office block and a two-storey restaurant on the site, with permit due to expire in December 2015.

However, the building was recommended for heritage protection in July 2011 by Melbourne City Council.

The collection of shops at the Collins Street-facing side of the building were forced to close when the tile fell. Two shops on The William Street side of the building – a furniture store and barber – continue to operate.

The ground floor foyer and large plaza forecourt – a popular lunchtime eating spot – have also been closed since the two-metre-by-one-metre marble panel fell into the plaza on January 30.

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

Browning told Property Observer in February the weather could have affected the adhesive.

“Just as windows can break, adhesions or fixings can be affected by weather, extreme weather. There could be some breakdown in the metal or the adhesive. It unfortunately does happen,” he said.

Tenants affected by the closure of their shops must apply to ISPT for compensation, Browning said in late March.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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