New Geelong Council HQ plans released

News

The City of Greater Geelong has appointed leading property fund manager and developer Quintessential Equity and unveiled an innovative and sustainable timber design for the City’s new central administrative office.

Designed by the Australian practice COX Architecture, the City’s new office to be located at 137 Mercer Street will feature a stylish and sustainable Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) design, creating a light-filled, healthy, contemporary workplace for the City’s central Geelong-based employees.

The new Civic Precinct will bring together the City's staff from seven central Geelong offices to drive collaboration, reduce costs, and future-proof the City’s workplace needs.

Construction is expected to begin on the City’s Civic Precinct mid-2020, with project completion mid-2022.

The City and Quintessential Equity are partnering in a $200 million investment, with construction of the new Civic Precinct to create nearly 900 local jobs. An estimated 43 per cent of construction costs will be sourced locally.

The multi-building design of the new Civic Precinct includes a second commercial building to be funded completely by Quintessential Equity, creating sustainably designed, PCA A-Grade office space for an additional 900 full-time workers in central Geelong.

The City is delivering the Civic Precinct without any increased cost to the ratepayer. In fact, once environmental and workplace efficiencies, increased rental returns, additional commercial rates and a reduced interest rate are factored in, the project will generate positive cashflow of $1.2 million per year.

The City is future-proofing the organisation’s workplace needs, by taking advantage of low interest rates and high office rental returns to invest in expansion space within the Civic Precinct at a cost of $8.5 million, to be tenanted out until needed, repaying the additional cost and generating positive rental revenue for the City.

This is a forward-thinking and cost-effective alternative to purchasing or renting additional office space in 10-15 years as the organisation grows to meet the needs of Greater Geelong’s growing community.

This additional cost, alongside the creation of 2600m2 of active public space and leading environmental credentials which support the City’s commitment to moving to 100% renewable energy, takes the City’s contribution to the Civic Precinct to $102.5 million.

The Civic Precinct includes significant social investment. Quintessential Equity and the City will engage with the joint G21 and Give Where You Live Foundation G21 Region Opportunities for Work (GROW) project to ensure disadvantaged areas benefit from procurement and local employment opportunities created by the project.

The Civic Precinct has been designed to meet the key aspirations set out by the Geelong community in the City’s Civic Precinct community engagement earlier this year. Over the coming weeks the City will be engaging with community again on the use of public space within the precinct.

The partnership is also committed to meaningful ongoing engagement with Traditional Owners and the local Aboriginal community, building on the engagement undertaken earlier this year.

The City’s new office will achieve the highest standards of sustainable design with a 6 Star Green Star Design and As-Built Rating as well as a 6 Star NABERS Energy Rating, meeting the City’s environmental aspirations and validating Geelong’s UNESCO City of Design designation.

With 48 per cent of the site dedicated to accessible public space as well as co-working spaces and retail and food tenancies, this vibrant and thriving precinct will provide direct connections to Johnstone Park and pedestrian access through to Bayley Street.

The City’s new office will feature end-of-trip facilities to encourage active modes of transport such as walking and cycling.

Quintessential Equity bring significant local experience to the table, including the WorkSafe building at 1 Malop Street, completed in 2017 and GMHBA’s new head office at 60 Moorabool Street which will be completed in 2021.

Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to more traditional construction methods. Quintessential Equity have partnered with local company Cross Laminated Offsite Solutions (CLOS) for this project, creating new jobs at their Avalon manufacturing site and acting as a catalyst for manufacturing development in the region.

Find out more about the project and view videos, renders and sketches of the design by visiting geelongaustralia.com.au/civicprecinct

In one of his final duties before departing the role, former City of Greater Geelong mayor Cr Bruce Harwood said: "We’re really excited to announce Quintessential Equity as our development partner for our new Civic Precinct. Combining Council and Quintessential Equity’s investments represents a $200 million investment in our region, which supports our community-led Clever and Creative 30-year vision and celebrates our designation as a UNESCO City of Design.

"Our new office will achieve the highest standards of sustainable design, achieving a 6 Star Green Star Design and As-Built Rating, a 6 Star NABERS Energy Base Building Rating, 4.5 Star NABERS Water Whole Building Rating and a 6 Star NABERS Waste Base Building Rating.

"We set out to deliver this significant investment without an increase in rates, and not only have we achieved that, we’re expecting to deliver this project ‘rates positive’ with a return of around $1.2 million per annum once efficiencies and rental returns are factored in. We’re also future-proofing the City’s workplace needs and requirements for the next 20-30 years.

"Our new Civic Precinct sets an exemplary standard for future office buildings in Geelong through the highest standards of sustainable design, activating street frontages and generating significant public space, and providing large, flexible floorplates designed for new ways of working."

City of Greater Geelong CEO Martin Cutter said: "We’ve achieved a fantastic result with the design of our new Civic Precinct, creating a modern, contemporary office for the City’s central Geelong employees. Bringing our workforce together in the one building will help improve collaboration, save money and improve the delivery of services to our community.

"Our new Civic Precinct will be far more than just an office building for City employees – with 48 per cent of the site dedicated to public space we’re creating a thriving vibrant public precinct, welcoming and accessible to everyone."

Source: A City of Greater Geelong media statement