9 November 2021

Attorney-General's Symonston offices with top-secret history sold for $36 million

| Ian Bushnell
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Government building

The Commonwealth-leased 24 Wormald Street, Symonston. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The property at 24 Wormald Street, Symonston, was first listed two-and-a-half years ago.

Charter Hall, which has been on a buying spree in the national capital this year, has added the 5186 square metre site and 4720 square metre building at 24 Wormald Street, Symonston to its growing Canberra portfolio.

Westtech Holdings’ Stavro Dascarolis and Jim Sarris developed the site in 2007, selling to Investec Australia Property Fund managed Irongate Group (IAP) for $29.75 million in March 2019.

A Fairfax Media report said the property had been revealed as central to ‘Plan Mercator’, aiming to maintain “continuity of government” in an attack, and whisking the prime minister, governor-general, senior ministers and top advisers to safety.

It said an embarrassing disclosure in 2008 through information scattered across government websites revealed the building supported critical communication systems that would operate in the event of a terrorist attack in Canberra.

READ ALSO Fascinating public service history unveiled by a search of department basements

IAP CEO Graeme Katz said that with six years to run on the lease and strong demand for high-quality office properties in Canberra, it was the perfect time to sell.

He said it was an opportunity to rebalance the fund’s geographical exposure to the ACT following the recent purchase of 38 Sydney Avenue, home to the Australian National Audit Office, for $73.75 million in June.

Charter Hall has had a busy year in the Canberra market.

Last month, Charter Hall and Singapore-based GIC acquired 50 Marcus Clarke Street for $300 million, despite the Commonwealth tenant, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, actively looking for a new home.

In August, Charter Hall bought the Doris Blackburn Building at 18 Canberra Avenue, Forrest, which is leased to Services Australia, paying Canberra developer Doma Group $98.5 million.

Doma completed the 9568 square metre A-Grade office building in 2012 and the Department of Human Services moved 600 of its staff there in 2015 on a $100 million, 15-year lease.

In May, Charter Hall bought the Services Australia building in Tuggeranong from South Korean group AIM Asset Management for $306 million.

The market in Canberra for quality office space, particularly with government leases, has run hot this year.

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Scott Anthony4:22 pm 09 Nov 21

Thats one, but its not the only building of this type.

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