There is light at the end of the tunnel for Charter Hall's $1.5 billion Wesley Place precinct after the restoration of the neo-gothic Wesley Church on Lonsdale Street.
The $20 million restoration project formed an important part of the development of the 1.1-hectare precinct. Land owner, the Uniting Church of Australia, have been using the Melbourne site for 200 years.
Completion of the neighbouring 35-level office tower is months away, adding 60,000sq m of premium grade office space and four skyrise terraces near the CBD.
Charter Hall secured AustralianSuper across the upper levels of the building, joining tenants Telstra Super, Cbus, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority and investment services firm Vanguard.
Development applications for the other two towers were fast-tracked by the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce in May in a bid to kickstart the state’s economy and provide jobs.
Charter Hall regional development director Simon Stockfeld said the 130 Lonsdale office tower was designed to accentuate and celebrate the Wesley Church spire and the area's history.
“One example of this is the historic Manse building, which has been incorporated into the design of the 130 Lonsdale lobby to enable the new and old to work seamlessly together,” Stockfeld said.
“Our dedicated development team worked closely with the Church, our building partner, Lendlease, heritage consultants and trade experts on the restoration project, striving to restore each of the buildings to as close of their original condition as possible.”
Charter Hall set up a 125-year sinking fund to ensure the heritage building would stand the test of time.
Uniting Church Australia property services director Peter Thomas said when they transitioned into their new offices in the tower, they could look at the Wesley Church, the Manse and the other carefully restored buildings with both pride and gratitude for what our partnership has produced.
“Frankly, these works would have been virtually impossible for the UCA to undertake alone—on any of technical, financial or community priority measures,” Thomas said.
“The muscle and steady will of a commercial partner who has wanted to work cooperatively and with conscience on such wide ranging, complex and challenging restorations of a complex of buildings has seen the rejuvenation blossom as each set of scaffolding has been removed.”