The Dilworth Trust Board is thumbing its nose at a commercial property market noted for few building consent applications and new developments by announcing the plan for a five-star green-rated building at 97-115 The Strand in Parnell.
The board is now seeking pre-commitments from corporate and retail tenants who are interested in occupying the state-of-the-art, four-level James Dilworth Centre in a popular city-fringe location on a 3502sq m site, just a short distance from the well-known Saatchi & Saatchi building.
Lorne Somerville of CBRE, who is marketing both the retail and office space for lease within the building, says the development "will provide a premium environment for occupiers at a time of limited new high-quality supply".
"In our view, tenants should be concerned at the lack of building consents being issued because, in two to three years' time, there is likely to be little sustainably designed top office space available for discerning tenants looking for quality premises," he says. "And particularly for larger tenants looking to make efficiencies in their office layout.
"The James Dilworth Centre is in a desirable, prime city-fringe location on land that has been in the possession of the Dilworth Trust for over 150 years. Featuring flexible floor plates and the latest energy-saving technology, this will be the dream office building for bigger businesses looking to relocate or consolidate their teams into one seamless business location."
The centre will have a total of 7827sq m of lettable office and retail space, comprising 1400sq m of ground-floor retail and office space; up to 3152sq m of office space on level one; up to 2947sq m of office space on level two; and a smaller 328sq m office area on level three. It will also have 168 secure covered carpark spaces, cycle storage, lockers and shower facilities.
On the eastern side of the centre, serviced by its own lift and stairs, will be an exclusive 328sq m roof-level space with an extensive landscaped roof garden.
Easy vehicle access off The Strand will lead to secure carparking areas located at ground and basement levels, with access to their lift and stair cores.
Somerville says the floor spaces have been architecturally designed to maximise the advantages of location. The building will also meet 100 per cent of the requirements of the latest seismic safety code, to give prospective tenants "peace of mind".
"Every aspect of the building has been thought through with the needs of a variety of tenant end-users catered for," says Somerville. "Total flexibility in fitout configuration is allowed for with the large floor plates allowing greater tenancy efficiencies with fewer common areas, walkways and access areas.
"For example, the two large ground-floor spaces separated by the entry foyer would be well suited to retail operations. The plans allow for the retail area to be divided into two large or several smaller retail premises, and these could have separate entrances and displays opening directly to the street. The two levels of large spacious office areas will give tenants the freedom to utilise the space as they require.
"Natural light penetration into the building will be enhanced by the incorporation of a large central atrium space, which will provide visual and physical links to all the levels including the entry lobby, along with serving as a space for employees and clients to socialise. The atrium will also provide natural ventilation control throughout the year.
"Around the perimeter of the building on three sides, floor-to-ceiling glass will heighten the outlook from the centre. On-site parking will also be a major attraction as most new city developments don't have much parking to offer."
Somerville says the building will embody numerous environmentally sustainable design principles to help it achieve a five-star green rating.
"The facade will not only be contiguous in scale and context with its neighbours, but will incorporate glazed vertical fins that will maximise daylight penetration and provide solar control in conjunction with its deep window reveals.
"As part of the sustainable design approach to the overall development, and out of respect for the historical 'grain' of the location, materials for original buildings on-site will be re-used where possible and the roof garden will facilitate rainwater harvesting and temperate control benefits for the building."
The site's closeness to transportation links is another benefit for potential tenants. Direct access to the State Highway 1 and SH16 motorways is only a short distance away via Stanley St, and a new Parnell railway station will be constructed about 500m from the proposed James Dilworth Centre during 2013-14.
Somerville says construction can be completed about 12 to 18 months after tenant precommitment is received. He believes the anticipated construction of the new building is timely with the office-leasing market having turned a corner, as reflected by stabilising rents and reduced incentives for premier properties.
"We are seeing a reduction in the city-fringe vacancy rate alongside increasing levels of inquiry, with options starting to reduce for tenants. Both prime and secondary markets have shown growth after remaining mostly stable through 2011.
"Prime rents have increased by 4 per cent over the last year, although they are still sitting about 14 per cent below peak levels."
Somerville says there is a challenge to meet the growing demand for quality office space. "New Zealand companies have adapted throughout the global financial crisis, becoming leaner and meaner. Those with their house in order are ready to grow and consolidate so CBRE foresees vacancy levels decreasing as existing companies expand and more startup companies come into the market."
Somerville says naming rights for the James Dilworth Centre, which will have high visibility to the large traffic volumes driving along The Strand, are also up for grabs.
"It will be an ideal long-term location for an organisation with an eye for style and a desire for energy efficiencies with about 100-plus employees, and typically, in the financial and insurance, professional services, legal sectors."
The construction timeline provides an opportunity for prospective tenants to clear their leases and obligations in an orderly manner and to plan a move to the building.
Somerville says the trust board has always been served by long-term thinkers and planners. "This will be a flagship property for the trust and we are expecting to get a high level of pre-commitment for the building."