Verde back on track

Townsville Bulletin - - Investor - by Tony Rag­gatt tony. rag­gatt@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

THE de­vel­op­ers of a pro­posed 12-storey of­fice tower at 445 Flin­ders St say pentup de­mand for qual­ity of­fice space could see the pro­ject pro­ceed this year.

The direc­tors of Flin­ders Street Tower Pty Ltd, Bris­bane de­vel­oper Stephen Gosling and for­mer Flight C e n t r e d i r e c t o r J i m Gold­burg, were in the city this week talk­ing to po­tent i a l t e nants a nd s t a ke­hold­ers in­clud­ing the coun­cil, Townsville Cham­ber of Com­merce and Townsville En­ter­prise.

‘‘ Townsville is des­per­ate for high qual­ity of­fice acc o m m o d a t i o n a n d t h e trick­les of in­ter­est from last year are now turn­ing into a flood of in­quires,’’ Mr Gosling said.

‘‘ Like ev­ery­body else we need a per­cent­age of con­firmed ten­an­cies to al­low us to start con­struc­tion but we feel we are very close to achiev­ing that goal.

‘‘ We are in se­ri­ous dis­cus­sions with a num­ber of large pri­vate com­pa­nies about leas­ing sig­nif­i­cant space.

‘‘ They re­alise it’s go­ing to get pretty com­pet­i­tive soon for qual­ity space and they see the ben­e­fits of mak­ing a move now.’’ The pro­ject, called Verde Townsville, was an­nounced as the city’s first world-class sus­tain­able of­fice tower in 2008 with the

GREEN FEEL: An artist’s im­pres­sion of the re­vived Verde com­plex group aim­ing for a 5-star green-star of­fice de­sign rat­ing.

Knight Frank Townsville started a leas­ing cam­paign but the in­ter­ven­tion of the g l o b a l f i n a n c i a l c r i s i s caused po­ten­tial ten­ants and fi­nanciers to pull back.

Mr Gosling said fi­nanciers were now will­ing to play ball and ten­ants were look­ing to take up a po­si­tion in qual­ity space in the CBD.

Also, plans by state gov­ern­ment agen­cies to take up new space and the coun­cil’s will­ing­ness to pro­vide in­cen­tives was lift­ing con­fi­dence.

‘‘ The mar­ket is buzzing as po­ten­tial suit­ors line up for the pos­si­bil­ity of Er­gon and the State Gov­ern­ment ten­der­ing for new of­fice space in the CBD,’’ he said.

‘‘ The coun­cil has been ter­rific in pro­mot­ing the vi­tal­ity of the CBD.

‘‘ With the com­ple­tion of Flin­ders St ( rede­vel­op­ment) and the po­ten­tial for fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives for new projects, con­fi­dence has re­turned to the mar­ket.’’

Mr Gosling said Verde had de­vel­op­ment ap­proval and was ad­vanced in its disc u s s i o n s w i t h m a j o r builders.

He said com­ple­tion would take 15 months from com­mence­ment.

‘‘ While we would have liked to have been up and run­ning by now, a ben­e­fit of the de­lay has been the real re­duc­tion in con­struc­tion costs, which are down at least 10 per­cent from 2008.

‘‘ Lower costs means we can pass on the ben­e­fits in lower leas­ing costs.’’

He said they would like to be on site half way through this year with com­ple­tion in 2012.

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