10 October 2022

Commanding city corner move for three federal departments/agencies after land sale

| Ian Bushnell
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New DEWR, Education building

An artist’s impression of the proposed office block on the corner of Northbourne Avenue and London Circuit. Photos: Supplied.

A new 11-storey office block to rise on a gateway city corner will be the new home for several federal government agencies after the sale of Block 40 Section 100, currently the car park next to the ACT law courts.

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Department of Education and the Australian Electoral Commission will move from their current offices in Marcus Clarke Street in 2026 to the new site on the corner of Northbourne Avenue and London Circuit.

The 70,000 square metre site is expected to be known as London Quarter and the building will provide touchless amenities and an open floor plan.

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A DEWR spokesperson said the department and the AEC had signed a 15-year lease for office accommodation at London Quarter from mid-2026.

The spokesperson said DEWR provided accommodation services to the Department of Education, and all Canberra-based staff from the three agencies would be accommodated at this site.

A City Renewal Authority spokesperson called the sale and development a once-in-a-decade opportunity to accelerate the city centre’s renewal with a sustainable, high-quality development that will locate thousands more workers adjacent to the city’s cultural, retail and hospitality offerings.

The CRA released the prime block for sale in 2020 when the Commonwealth sought invited Expressions of Interest for future leased accommodation in the city.

A two-stage process identified developers for the Commonwealth to shortlist, and the Territory then invited them to submit tenders for the site.

New DEWR, Education building render

Another view of the proposed development.

The Commonwealth has now chosen its preferred tenderer and the Territory is in the process of completing the sale.

The CRA spokesperson said few details of the sale had been released with the process still subject to commercial considerations.

“We are confident in delivering excellent value for the Territory both financially and in terms of quality precinct development,” the spokesperson said.

“The site was independently valued during the sale process, and the final price will be disclosed once the sale is complete.

“We are pleased to cooperate with the Commonwealth and their preferred tenderer on this opportunity and look forward to completing this sale in the coming months.”

The three agencies’ current home at 50 Marcus Clarke Street – a 12-storey building with 40,000 square metres of lettable space – sold last year for a then-record of $335 million to Charter Hall and GIC.

The lease there expires in 2025 and the former Department of Education, Skills and Employment had been actively looking for a new, more extensive site to accommodate all its staff.

The city deal continues the repositioning of major federal departments in Canberra.

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The Tax Office has announced a move in 2025 to a new building in Barton from 21 Genge Street in the city, while Infrastructure is tipped to be the new tenant at One City Hill on the other side of the law courts.

Charter Hall has been busy collecting major office assets in Canberra. It is conducting due diligence on 21 Genge Street for a $300 million purchase and has also picked up the new Tax Office building to be built at 15 Sydney Avenue.

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What will happen to the car parking currently at this site? The city is already short of parking. I hope there is some consultation on the design to help this to be a ‘high quality development’ as many projects say that but don’t achieve it.

good riddance. There is no worse use of land than surface parking

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