City announces $200m HQ precinct

NEW ERA: Concept drawings of council's planned new headquarters.

by Luke Voogt

Geelong’s council has unveiled plans for a new $200 million headquarters, which City Hall says will create 900 local jobs during construction.

Council will contribute $102.5 million to the new civic precinct after announcing a partnership with property group Quintessential Equity this afternoon.

Construction on two cross laminated timber buildings is set to begin mid next year with an expected completion date of mid-2022.

The project would source an 43 per cent of construction costs locally, council estimated.

The precinct would help future-proof council’s workplace needs and requirements for the next 20 to 30 years, Geelong Mayor Bruce Harwood announced.

“We set out to deliver this significant investment without an increase in rates,” he said.

“Not only have we achieved that, we’re expecting to deliver this project rates positive, with a return of around $1.2 million per annum once efficiencies and rental returns are factored in.”

The positive cash flow would result from environmental and workplace efficiencies, increased rental returns and additional commercial rates, Cr Harwood explained.

The project brings together council staff from seven central Geelong offices in a bid to reduce costs.

The council headquarters includes an additional floor, costing $8.5 million to build, that it plans to rent to other organisations until its workforce expands.

The civic precinct would also a commercial building for an additional 900 full-time workers in central Geelong.

Quintessential Equity would build and own the second building, the company’s executive chairman Shane Quinn announced.

Both offices would achieve the highest standards of sustainability with very high energy, design, water-usage and waste ratings, Cr Harwood said.

The light-filled, healthy, contemporary workplace would set an exemplary standard for future buildings in Geelong through design, activating street frontages and significant public space, he said.

The project supported council’s commitment to move to 100 per cent renewable energy, Cr Harwood added.

The precinct at 137 Mercer Street includes 2600 square metres of “active” public space, according to council.

“Our new civic precinct will be far more than just an office building for City employees,” council’s chief executive officer Martin Cutter said.

“With 48 per cent of the site dedicated to public space we’re creating a thriving vibrant public precinct, welcoming and accessible to everyone.”

Quintessential and council would engage with G21 Regional Opportunities for Work (GROW) to ensure disadvantaged areas benefit the project, they announced.

The project’s advisory committee chair Sophie Patitsas said Quintessential’s design was the best out of three shortlisted candidates.

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