NEW CBD TOWER
$100m CITY HQ VISION
THE City of Greater Geelong is pursuing a bold plan to build itself a new $100 million high-rise headquarters. The tower at 137 Mercer St, which would host 17,000 square metres of floor space, would rival WorkSafe’s 14-storey complex on nearby Malop St.
THE City of Greater Geelong is pursuing a bold plan to build itself a new $100 million highrise headquarters.
The council has chosen a site opposite the Geelong police station and wants it open by 2022.
The high-rise base at 137 Mercer St, which would host 17,000sq m of floorspace, would rival WorkSafe’s 14-storey complex on nearby Malop St.
However the revolutionary project will need to be approved by the incoming council, which will be elected next month.
Council staff will aim to secure funding to begin design works in the 2018-19 year.
That would allow a transition to the new building by mid-2022, when the leases expire on the council’s biggest offices on Brougham and Corio streets.
The council’s white-collar staff are now spread across nine central locations, occupying a total area of 12,480sq m.
While five of the properties are in public hands, the council rents facilities at Corio, Brougham and Mercer streets and in Newtown.
Finance and strategy director Peter Anderson said that spreading staff across the various sites led to a loss of productivity, forced duplication of some services and increased communication and IT costs.
“Operating over nine locations has, over the years, not only proven administratively difficult it has proven to be an inefficient and costly option,” he said.
The council pays $2.05 million annually in rent but the bill is expected to increase to $2.78 million by July, 2022.
Economic modelling has shown that if the status quo is maintained, accommodation costs would top $72 million during the next 20 years.
The move to a central location was first raised in 1998, but has only gained momentum in the past year.
Centralisation was thrust back on the agenda by the State Government-initiated Commission of Inquiry, which exposed a poor culture and led to the sacking of all councillors.
The inquiry called for coun- cil’s departments to be consolidated in one central location, to unify the organisation, increase efficiency and productivity and to release its surplus assets.
Council staff have since reviewed 11 potential sites, before settling on the 4655sq m site at 137 Mercer St, which the council bought a decade ago.
The site, which is now used as a carpark, was chosen because of its relatively low cost and location.
Mr Anderson said it provided an opportunity to create a stronger link between the train station and central business district.
Early estimates are that the council would require 15,000sq m of floorspace, which is comparable to WorkSafe’s headquarters.
A further 2200sq m is also being considered for a childcare facility and other services, to meet growing residential base in the CBD.
If the proposal proceeds, the council’s new base would join a host of commercial high-rise buildings that are redefining the city’s skyline.
Administrators will on Tuesday night consider the plan, including more detailed analysis on the size and design of the building and pedestrian and traffic implications.
They will also consider an internal recommendation to explore financing options, before a report on potential fund- ing of the project is delivered by March. That means that with incoming council support the project would be considered in the 2018-19 budget.
“There is a three-year design and construct period for a new accommodation and civic building,” Mr Anderson said.
“It will be necessary to continue to advance the business case and funding considerations for this project so council can be in a position to avoid the impending lease renewals.”
GEELONG ON THE RISE: Geelong has zeroed in on this Mercer St site for its proposed high-rise headquaters.