Bringing a 1980s office space into the 21st century

Investment and property development company Wallum Partners is investing $40 million in revamping a 1980s office space in inner Brisbane into a fully refurbished, all ability friendly, sustainable commercial office building.

Wallum Partners director Marcel Russ said the goal is to convert the highly visible and incredibly iconic riverside commercial office building from an outdated and unloved asset into a sustainable and cutting-edge working environment that will hopefully set the tone for refurbished commercial office spaces in Brisbane and the whole country.

“We have a lot of fun working on these types of projects. These projects really allow us to push the envelope. We want to show that every office space has the potential for growth, transformation and a high degree of functionality.

“We’re taking inspiration from some of the world’s most beautiful and sustainable office spaces. The directors are constantly seeking inspiration from ambitious and cutting-edge projects both domestically and overseas.”

The building purchased in an off-market transaction by Wallum Partners in early 2020 is located at 159 Coronation Drive, just minutes outside of the Brisbane CBD. The entire asset consists of two four level buildings with 130 parking spaces and 5,200 square metres of office space.

According to Russ, he and the team at Wallum want to upgrade the asset into a leading sustainable and environmentally friendly office space that will not only redefine the benchmark for workability but also embrace the needs of people with all abilities including those with physical challenges.

“There’s a lot riding on our success. A lot of people believe it’s too difficult to bring 21st century sustainable standards to old buildings. They think it’s easier to just knock down an old building down and start again,” Russ said.

“We want to show that that’s not actually necessary. A lot can be done with older buildings, whether it’s an office space or your own home. In fact, many older buildings have extraordinarily good bones.  We’re really looking forward to seeing the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the building. We think a lot of people are going to be pleasantly surprised.”

Russ and the team at Wallum have engaged a number of consultants and organisations to help them revitalise the old office space. The project is being backed by Stamford Capital and Quintet Partners Partnership Platform.

“We’re currently deciding on an appropriate solar system to improve the building’s performance, making upgrades to the air conditioning, lifts, installing carbon sensors, low energy lighting, basement upgrades, painting the building and ensuring water efficiency measures are in place,” Russ added.

“We’re transforming the landscaping by working with Oculus, world leading landscape designers to deliver a beautiful ground plane around the building. We’re also working with Fender Katsalidis, world renowned Architects, to upgrade lobbies, bathrooms, balconies, as well as the building’s façade and entrances.

“In addition, we are also incorporating end of trip facilities and investigating the possibility of also adding power stations for electric cars, bikes and scooters. All this will bring the building up to a world class standard making it a most inclusive, thoughtful, productive and inspiring refurbished workspace.”

“When organisations such as Wallum Partners make efforts to manage and improve in areas such as environmental emissions, energy efficiency and waste management; they are able to save costs, support local economies, conserve natural resources and cultural heritage; and help to improve the quality of life for locals and tenants alike,” said Stewart Moore, CEO of EarthCheck and environmental partner of Wallum Partners. “159 Coronation is a valued member of a global group of property assets who dare to make a difference.”

The Wallum Partners team is determined to redefine what is possible in terms of sustainable commercial asset refurbishment.

“Accessibility is a core part of this project. This building was created during a time when accessibility factors weren’t considered. We’re going to add ramp access, improve layout and placement of fittings and fixtures, and also convert old tea rooms into all abilities bathrooms,” Russ said.