For workspaces to be great people-oriented spaces, first they have to be safe. 7 Waterloo Quay, the landmark 14-storey office building owned by Argosy Property and home to NZ Post, was impacted by the Kaikoura earthquake. However, a substantial programme of works is bringing the building back to market and attracting quality Crown tenants. Grant Burns of Argosy took time to speak to Love Your Workspace to talk us through the extensive work that been undertaken to improve the building’s resilience, and about the positive future that now lies ahead for the building within Argosy’s substantial portfolio.
From a causal glance from street-level, it probably did not seem initially that the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake had done much damage to the ‘grand old lady’ at 7 Waterloo Quay. And, from a structural perspective, this was confirmed; soon after the earthquake, independent engineers reported that the building remained structurally sound. However, like many other structures in Wellington, the building had suffered considerable damage to its fitout and services. A seismic upgrade was added to the earthquake damage reinstatement works.
Grant Burns says that the internal reinstatement works in the building are now largely completed. “All of the badly damaged tenancy spaces have been completely stripped back to the bare structure, and they all have completely new in-ceiling services, all designed to 100% NBS. We undertook a thorough asbestos removal process which has been independently certified.
“We also made the decision to not seek to immediately reinstate the central plant fresh air supply and extract systems that utilise vertical risers, going with a floor-by-floor method for now,” says Burns. “This means that the whole air distribution system is completely new and stand-alone”
Matt Hince, Senior Director of CBRE’s Advisory & Transaction Services team, says that the timing of the upgrade of 7 Waterloo Quay is on point, as Wellington office stock levels are currently very low, with new supply some time away.
“With historically low vacancy rates and any meaningful increase in office supply still several years off, 7 Waterloo Quay is primed to provide a much-needed release valve in 2020. This landmark Wellington property has outstanding harbour views adjacent to the Central Railway Station, Wellington CBD and Parliament. Moreover, the floors are amongst Wellington’s largest and offer incredibly efficient office space due to the regular rectangular shape which can accommodate any configuration of fitout and facilitate all workspace styles.
“Argosy is taking the opportunity to market the building’s attractive amenities including a huge activated ground floor accommodating a licensed café, a variety of meeting areas, a concierge service and best-in-class locker and showering facilities.”
Burns says that demand for space at 7 Waterloo Quay from late 2019 has dictated the reinstatement timeframe. “With the exception of level 12, reinstatement works were substantially completed by March 2019. Level 12 is expected to be completed by March 2020.
“With recent changes to the assessment of seismic resilience, we undertook seismic strengthening of the building and these works are expected to be complete by December 2019.
“We are in advanced negotiations with a number of Crown tenants for significant space in the building, and we expect to announce unconditional commitments soon with fitouts likely to commence in the first quarter of 2020. We are excited about the calibre and mix of Crown tenants we are working with and look forward to strengthening this relationship further.”
Argosy has been focusing on sustainability and greening its wider portfolio. Burns says that this focus on sustainability is good business for Argosy. “It’s an attractive strategy and a clear way to differentiate ourselves in the market, so we are undertaking more green developments within our portfolio, such as the $64 million development at 8-14 Willis Street for Statistics New Zealand that will target a 6 Green Star Built rating and 5 Star NABERSNZ energy efficiency rating. Construction is expected to be completed by April 2021.”
This is all part of Argosy’s Create – Manage - Own strategy that is all about creating sustainable growth, says Burns.
“We’ve been steadily greening the portfolio because over time green buildings deliver higher occupancy, stronger tenant retention, improved tenant satisfaction and even lower staff turnover. All of these things are good for our tenants, and positive for Argosy.”
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