Client story

A Melbourne heritage office refurbishment reinvigorates tenant interest

A leasing deal was agreed within three months of the renovation.

121 Flinders Lane is a mainstay of Melbourne’s historical built landscape

It is a heritage commercial block constructed in 1838 in the heart of Melbourne, surrounded by Melbourne’s most famous restaurants and luxury retail brands. The office space on level 1 had been vacant for two and a half years during COVID lockdowns.

The property’s investment manager, AXA Investment Managers engaged JLL to design and project manage a refurbishment of the vacant office floor, with a view to attracting a tenant.

The design brief called for natural lighting and an open plan workspace. A breakout space, and meeting room that could be adapted into a collaboration area or meeting touchpoint, were also among the design goals.

With 18 workstations, the office was targeted at small-to-medium sized businesses. JLL was asked to complete the refurbishment within three months.

JLL’s design had small-to-medium-sized tenants in mind.

In our planning, we considered what kind of office space small-to-medium sized companies were looking for and ensured these criteria aligned with the functional requirements of the brief.

We ascertained there was a preference for open floor plans, high ceilings, exposed structural elements and large windows. Further, there was demand for flexible spaces, including coworking spaces, hot desks and virtual meeting rooms. The typical budget was about $2,000 per square metre.

We worked with a neutral colour palette of green, terracotta, and cream as a reference to nature. The aim was to create a sense of tranquillity and warmth.

Beyond the design, we needed to audit all the existing building systems, such as the mechanical ducts and fire sprinklers within the tenancy due to the age of the building. This would also ensure there would be no cost surprises or potential risks to the project. Our audit included compliance checks, as well as further inspections of the building to understand if there were any technical implications.

As it turns out, the building’s cooling tower had been completely decommissioned so the mechanical services on level 1 had to be redesigned and adjusted to incorporate new air conditioning units.

One major challenge faced by the project team during construction was the building’s lack of a loading dock or goods lift, which meant all construction materials had to be carried up the stairs to the first floor where the site was located.

Not all construction materials are designed to fit through a staircase, so we had to consider the size and weight of many components.

Our site safety platform Donesafe eliminated the need for paperwork and onerous administrative tasks, freeing up our team to focus on executing the project. Sub-contractors also had access, with the ability to update documentation, which meant we could provide timely updates to our client.

Donesafe also has a QR code sign-in feature, which give us real-time data of people working on site.

A refreshed office space delivered a week ahead of schedule

The new-look Melbourne office blended function with style. The layout maximised the available space and provided seamless flow between different areas. A ‘light and bright’ feel and colouring provides a great base for any future tenant.

After remaining unoccupied for an extended time, the office was leased within four months of the completed refurbishment, which is a testament to our market research and the appeal of the new fit-out.

AXA IM continues to engage JLL to design its other speculative suites.