JUL
08
Wesley, Melbourne Victoria

Frank Lonetti 08 JUL 2014

Leighton Properties has welcomed its nomination by The Uniting Church as preferred developer for the restoration and development of its iconic Wesley Upper Lonsdale Street Site.

The project is now undergoing a process of documentation and approval. Final execution is expected in September 2014.

Leighton Properties, National Head of Commercial, Andrew Borger, said the project is in-line with Leighton Properties’ strategic focus and the Company is committed to delivering on the Church’s vision for its Wesley Site, revitalising the precinct whilst retaining its history and cultural significance. 

Mr Borger said: “Leighton Properties’ capabilities and experience in providing innovative solutions for large-scale projects positions us well to deliver on what will become a quality, landmark development for The Uniting Church."

Wesley Upper Lonsdale is located in the heart of Melbourne’s entertainment and cultural precinct amongst some of the city’s best restaurants and bars and Melbourne’s famous Princess and Her Majesty’s Theatres.

It is also the most tightly held precinct in Melbourne’s CBD – with a vacancy rate of 3.3% compared to the CBD average of 10.5% (January 2014, JLL).

“This development offers the opportunity to positively address the underlying demand for space in Melbourne’s CBD. We are looking forward to working in partnership with all key stakeholders to create a green, active, connected and welcoming urban environment that retains the best aspects of a calm sanctuary in the urban realm.” Mr Borger said.

The proposed development will include an A-Grade commercial office tower targeting a 5 Star Green Star – Office Design v3 rating with its own rainwater collection system; a dynamic Town Square; and a number of courtyard and garden spaces that will encourage connection, meeting, dining, rest and contemplation.

The Neo-Gothic Wesley Church is located centrally on the site and will be retained and restored along with its supporting historic buildings, the Parsonage/Manse, School House and Caretaker’s Cottage.

Minister of the Wesley Church, Rev Alistair Macrae, a member of the Project Control Group, said that key to Leighton Properties’ proposal was its consideration of the Church’s mission objectives.

Rev Macrae said: “We want to ensure that the developed spaces enable relationships between people, that its uses are consistent with the values of the Uniting Church and reflect God’s concern for the environment.”

“The transformation of this historic site as an important social, commercial and missional space places the church at its centre, opening up opportunities for the Wesley congregation to be in mission with the changing demographic of the inner-city,” Mr Macrae explained.

Wesley Mission Victoria chief executive officer Rob Evers said Wesley was committed to the project and would return to Lonsdale St when the development is completed.

“This is a significant development in the history of the Uniting Church – but also in the history of Wesley Mission Victoria,” Mr Evers said. “The opportunity to work in partnership with the Wesley Church and the Uniting Church of Australia (Vic/Tas) to bring about this proposed development demonstrates the strength of our relationships. Wesley Mission Victoria looks forward to returning at the completion of the development to our new premises at the Wesley Upper Lonsdale Street site.”

The Uniting Church in Australia, Head of Property, Paul Walec, said that the transaction structure with Leighton Properties, carefully and uniquely balances mission, risk and commercial outcomes. He welcomed the opportunity to partner with one of the private sectors leading development companies.

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Frank Lonetti

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