2 March 2022

Canberra's iconic Geoscience HQ set to fetch more than $360 million

| Ian Bushnell
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Geoscience Australia headquarters

The sale of the Geoscience Australia headquarters in Symonston may break records. Photo: GA.

The innovative Geoscience Australia complex in Symonston is on the market and agents are tipping that it could bring more than $360 million.

German pension funds manager Real I.S. has appointed Colliers and JLL to handle the sale of the Geoscience Australia headquarters next month.

In a joint statement, Colliers and JLL said they would launch an International Expressions of Interest campaign for the sale of 101 Jerrabomberra Avenue.

They expect the 31,053 sqm property, where Geoscience Australia is the sole tenant, to attract significant national and international interest.

The Canberra office market is running hot, with especially strong demand for A-grade office space with long-term government leases and the Geoscience Australia complex could test market milestones.

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Geoscience Australia is Australia’s pre-eminent public sector geoscience organisation and is the Australian Government’s trusted advisor on the geology and geography of Australia.

The 24-year-old, two-building complex, which sits on 16 ha site, features a main building with offices, laboratories, public areas and a library, and a support building with special storage, laboratories and workshops.

A $15 million refurbishment of the complex including the fit-out of four levels and updating Greenstar and Nabers requirements, was completed in 2019.

The complex, which houses 1500 staff, is strategically located near Parliament and for collaboration with Australia’s top Earth sciences program at the Australian National University.

The site will be highly attractive for its long and secure lease, which runs until 2032.

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Real I.S. bought the building from the Motor Trades Association of Australia Superannuation Fund in 2007 for $234 million.

The Commonwealth-funded building project was completed in December 1997, with Geoscience Australia occupying the site in January 1998.

Architects Eggleston Macdonald (now DesignInc) designed a building which showcases a significant number of energy efficient sustainability features that generate considerable cost savings, including air conditioning incorporating a geothermal heat pump system.

Colliers agents Paul Powderly, Matthew Winter, Adam Woodward and James Mitchell and JLL agents Tim Mutton, James Barber and Luke Billiau have been appointed to handle the process.

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Why sell something built for you then rent it back? Stupid

“Geoscience Australia is Australia’s pre-eminent public sector geoscience organisation and is the Australian Government’s trusted advisor on the geology and geography of Australia.” Apologies if I missed it but is foreign investment a consideration if Geoscience will still occupy the building after the sale?

It would be nice if the government bought it instead of paying for it many times over in rent.

Scott Anthony3:15 pm 02 Mar 22

The only reason you can make $100 Million profit on a building is the sheer value of the fat leases with their stupid ‘ratchet’ clauses where future increases are not only built in but fat beyond all reason because its the taxpayers who pick up the tab… The sale and lease-back of public infrastructure has been a major burden on tax dollars and robs development and services in other areas, we’re nothing but poorer for the short term gain…

Noel Benjamin2:07 pm 02 Mar 22

More budget bottom line sell off public assets. This policy is bad economics and driven by bean counters. How has Commonwealth finances been improved by assets’ sales beyond the very short term benefit
to the budget bottom line!!!

Stephen Saunders10:00 am 02 Mar 22

But am I correct in assuming that GA stays on in this unique building? If so, we can also safely assume that the new owner will benefit more than the taxpayer.

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