Samuel Property joins Melbourne’s fringe office market

Melbourne-based developer Samuel Property is confident its $60m+ office project in Hawthorn East will hit post-pandemic high marks as demand for high-quality office space in outlying areas of the city continues to intensify.

The private developer, led by Illan Samuel and known for its high-end residential developments, bought the 1,300 sq m site at 17 Cato Street for $4.2 million in mid-2021 in a counter-cyclical move at the height of Covid-19 lockdowns.

Samuel now has plans with the city of Boroondara for what will be the developer’s first office project: a six-storey commercial building above two basement levels for 60 vehicles.

If completed, the development will provide 5000m² of Grade A flexible office space, with larger 1000m² floor plates running through its middle levels.

samuel said The urban developer the trend of employers increasingly opting for properties on the outskirts of town had given the confidence to continue the pilot business game of the development group.

“Despite more than 10 years of experience in residential development, I am always looking for different opportunities,” said Samuel.

“I’m a firm believer in the adage that ‘careers are made in the office’ and when designing the Cato Street project we really tried to take into account everything a prospective tenant might want.

“We designed the building with the pandemic in mind. Core features are centered around wellness and the green amenities and facilities we provide are a big part of the design. They will undoubtedly ensure the sustainability of the building for its potential occupants.

The building, designed by Cera Stribley, will replace an existing, underutilized single-storey office building in the center of the existing industrial and commercial district of Cato Street, bordered by Toorak, Tooronga and Auburn roads.

▲ The site is close to retail, schools, recreation facilities, parks and transport links including Burke Road Light Rail and Tooronga Station. Image: Close to the map

Samuel targeted the site because of its position at the highest point of Cato Street, which the developer leveraged in its plans by providing two outdoor terraces at the rear of the building – on levels four and five – as well as a a large communal roof terrace which will hold uninterrupted views towards the CBD.

The office project will also feature a breathable facade, smart systems, nature integration, renewable energy, contactless functionality, agile office spaces and end-of-trip facilities.

Samuel said that in the wake of the pandemic, it was important to create a future-oriented workplace that would inspire employers and employees to return to the office.

According to the Property Council of Australia, vacancy rates have increased over the past six months as more people go to bed in work-from-home conditions.

In Melbourne’s CBD, where the gap between supply and demand is large, the vacancy rate has now risen to 13%.

Samuel said Hawthorne East, in the leafy belt of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, had strong fundamentals compared to other established outlying office suburbs such as Cremorne – a fast emerging hub for the tech and creative industries – where development was rampant and the vacancy rate was tightening.

“Hawthorne East, which is surrounded by several affluent suburbs, is a bit of a sleeping giant in terms of the potential for positive additions and quality office buildings. The region has really been calling for this type of development for some time,” Samuel said.

▲ The ground plan will feature vegetation and a permeable “street wall” while the roof will include a common terrace. Image: Cera Stribley

“Cremorne, Richmond, Burnley and Collingwood, these are suburbs that have grown quite a bit in a short time as go-to outlying office markets. Due to the increased density and traffic, it also becomes quite difficult to get in and out.

“For any business that wants to be located in the suburbs, that has deliberately chosen not to want to be in the CBD, they want to feel like they can easily access their office, yet be close to home.

“From a price point of view, Cato Street will be quite a compelling argument for businesses looking for high quality outlying office space that they are priced for in nearby suburbs such as South Yarra, Collingwood or Cremorne.”

Samuel specializes in the high-end multi-residential sector having delivered 15 projects mainly in the inner suburbs of Melbourne.

Its Willow project in Brighton will be completed on schedule in two months while the developer is in the final stages of negotiations for the start of the first quarter of 2023 with an undisclosed builder for Louise – a 100 apartment project on the north corner west of Louise Street and Queens Lane in central Melbourne.

In another first, Samuel recently tabled plans for a $70million boutique apartment project in Cowes on Phillip Island, his first project outside of central Melbourne, comprising 91 upmarket apartments in a mix of one, two, three and four chamber configurations. .

Looking ahead, Samuel said the developer was optimistic about further site acquisitions to flesh out its pipeline after succeeding in its countercyclical approach to breaking into the commercial sector.

“We are not just residential real estate developers and actively seek all types of opportunities,” he said.

“Going forward, we will have sites and locations in our sights that are more commercially aligned and more residential, while also having the flexibility to adapt to mixed-use development.”

Jose C. Birney