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Quintessential wins bid for Geelong’s WorkSafe office

The new WorkSafe building in Geelong that Quintessential will develop. Photo: suppliedProperty fund syndicator Quintessential Equity has won a Victorian state government bid to build a new 14-storey office for 700 WorkSafe employees in Geelong.

Quintessential beat off stiff competition from construction giant Grocon and at least three other suitors for the right to construct the $120 million head office above the historic Dalgety and Co building at 1 Malop Street.

The WorkSafe structure is not the only office tower being proposed for Geelong, with most bidders also expected to chase an Australian government brief released in October last year for a further 7700 square metres of new office space.

That new office will house workers from the National Disability Insurance Agency and Department of Human Services.

State Finance Minister Robin Scott said WorkSafe’s relocation would boost jobs and economic growth in a region hard-hit by the closure of car manufacturer Ford.

The relocation of workers will take place in a two-stage move, with the first 150 employees moving from premium space they currently occupy at 222 Exhibition Street in Melbourne’s CBD to temporary quarters in the existing TAC building at 60 Brougham Street in Geelong by the end of this year.

Remaining employees were expected to move into the new office when it was completed in 2018, Mr Scott said.

Quintessential director Shane Quinn said the construction and development of the Malop Street office would be underwritten by the group’s pool of investors.

The A-grade building, the tallest in Geelong, will achieve a 6 Star Green Star sustainability rating and 5 Star NABERS energy rating across a net lettable area of 15,000 square metres.

“We have a 15-year lease from WorkSafe who will inhabit 90 per cent of the building. We’re talking to a number of other tenants to take the balance,” Mr Quinn said.

Other contenders apart from Grocon who lost out to Quintessential included Techne Development and businessman Michael King.

Techne had plans for a nine-level, 18,000-square-metre office in Malop Street on the site of the Carlton Hotel, while Mr King put forward an 11-storey proposal for the Kings Funeral Parlour site.

Quintessential has stamped a presence in the office space by buying, regenerating and re-leasing older buildings in Canberra and NSW to government and other tenants.

The boutique fund manager has a $700 million development pipeline, including a joint venture with the Kuo family and Sinclair Brook for a $400 million mixed-use project over the next five to seven years in the Adelaide CBD.

Late last year it sold a suburban Sydney office building at 166 Epping Road to Malaysian property tycoon Ong Leong Huat for $27.8 million on a yield of 9 per cent, delivering a massive 140 per cent total return to syndicate investors.

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