A New Era Starts for Historic 401 Collins

Leading Australian impact fund manager, Impact Investment Group (IIG), has announced the rejuvenation of its iconic art deco building at 401 Collins Street, in the leafy heart of Melbourne's CBD, with plans to create a dynamic centre for modern working and hospitality.

International space, community, and services company, WeWork, has leased the building’s rooftop and the entire nine floors of commercial space, and IIG is in negotiations with a leading pair of Melbourne restauranteurs with plans to establish a new hospitality brand on the ground floor.

A new fit-out for levels mezzanine to 9 and the rooftop, primarily designed by WeWork, will take advantage of their extensive experience supporting collaborative working. Newly claimed space on the rooftop and in the basement will see the net lettable area (NLA) increase by 360sqm, bringing the total NLA to approximately 6,291sqm.

IIG’s CEO Chris Lock said “This marks the start of a new era for 401 Collins. We’re proud to be setting up the next chapter in this remarkable building’s life.

“When we buy older properties like this one, we look for ways to adapt them for modern use, whether it’s making them more energy-efficient, or fitting them out to support the kinds of jobs that will exist in the new economy.

“It shows that these pre-war buildings, built to endure as they were, can still contribute to Australia’s move towards lower carbon emissions.

“This is a great location to be re-designing commercial space; it is a landmark in the heart of Melbourne’s banking and financial services district, where we can see demand for high quality working spaces. It’s a bonus to have such a distinguished building to work on.”

IIG has started an extensive program of capital works that includes restoration of 401 Collins’ heritage stone front façade, replacement of the two lobby lifts, major mechanical upgrades and environmental sustainability measures. In addition, WeWork’s extensive fit out will aim to meet leading modern standards while being sympathetic to 401 Collins’ historical character.

IIG has identified opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of the base building, by upgrading the heating, ventilation, air conditioning system, building management system, and electrical services. IIG will work closely with WeWork and the hospitality tenants, encouraging them to create a healthy and productive space, while minimising the environmental impact of the fit out.

The Hon Philip Dalidakis MP, Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade said "We welcome global co-working provider WeWork to Melbourne's thriving startup community.

"While we are leading Australia in startup growth, Victoria's population is also outgrowing the rest of the country so it is important that we encourage the sector to produce more office space and competition that will ultimately benefit our local entrepreneurs to help them develop and succeed."

WeWork’s Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Ole Ruch, said "Melbourne is home to startups, big businesses, and creative entrepreneurs pioneering innovation across industries old and new. The city is a natural next step for WeWork and our growing Australian community, and we've seen great interest in a Melbourne location from both our existing Sydney community and Melbourne-based businesses alike. We can't wait to see what new ideas and innovative products come out of WeWork Melbourne."

WeWork has set up more than 120 shared work spaces across the globe since February 2010, when the company launched in New York. WeWork provides work spaces, collaborative networks, community platforms and services to its more than 90,000 members in 32 cities. It has raised more than $2.3B (AUD) total equity funding from partners including Goldman Sachs, Fidelity Investments, and JP Morgan Chase & Co, according to technology company data provider Crunchbase.

IIG and its current tenant, Roy Morgan Research Ltd (RMR), have been working closely together in relation to the building works commenced by IIG at the property. Pending formal exchange of lease documents between IIG and We Work, it is intended that the property will be vacated by RMR in late 2017 allowing IIG to undertake more substantial building upgrade works. In the meantime, IIG and RMR are working towards a mutually acceptable timeline for RMR to vacate the property in mid 2017, to facilitate commencement of the new tenant’s fit out earlier than anticipated.

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