Mark Gray

9 March 2012 – Leightons and Grosvenor invited the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to the topping out ceremony for the planned five star Green Star, five star NABERS Eclipse in Parramatta west of Sydney last week.

Leighton Properties managing director Mark Gray said the Eclipse standards were high, but for  Leighton’s  it was business as usual.

In an interview with The Fifth Estate after the ceremony, Mr Gray said: “Five star Green Star and five NABERS is quite high in sustainability and it’s probably setting a new benchmark not just for sustainability for architectural excellence in in Parramatta.”

From Leighton’s point of view, however, “sustainability is a key driver to all the projects that we do.

“All our new buildings are five and six star rated. We probably have more rated commercial buildings in Australia than any other company and we’ve been doing this for quite a while.”

Mr Gray said green buildings were becoming more mainstream, but the challenge now was retrofitting of older stock to modern standards and in precinct development.

Precincts, he said, were “the next generation of sustainability. It’s what we can be doing in the grouping of a buildings in terms of power generation, water and transport.”

The surprise in the sustainability journey, Mr Gray said, was not just the rate at which the cost of sustainability had come down, but that the savings in outgoings were “far greater than we had all anticipated.”

And that’s by a factor of 30 per cent in operational costs of running buildings, “and that’s going to drive design changes.”

Eclipse

Eclipse
The 19-storey, 88 metre, $170 million tower, being constructed by John Holland, and developed by joint venture partners Leighton Properties and Grosvenor Fund Management Australia, is understood to be the tallest commercial building in the Parramatta CBD.

The project at 60 Station Street is due for completion in August and will provide 25,700 square metres of new office space to the city’s CBD.

Designers Fitzpatrick and Partners, which won Parramatta’s first design competition under the Parramatta City Council’s new city centre plan, the building will be one of the most prominent and sustainable towers in the city, the developers say.

It is already 80 per cent leased, with pre-commitments from Deloitte, QBE Insurance and Landcom.

It’s the only A-grade commercial building under construction in Parramatta and as such is experiencing strong interest from the market for its remaining space.

Members of the development team marked the “topping out” milestone with a tree-planting ceremony – a long-standing construction industry tradition recalling a time when all buildings were made of timber.

Considered a symbol of growth and good luck, a tree is placed on the roof to

signal to the city that the builders had reached the top.

Speaking at the event, NSW Premier and Minister for Western Sydney, Barry O’Farrell, said the development had provided hundreds of jobs.

Also speaking at the ceremony Mr Gray said the tower had already provided much-needed commercial space to a CBD market sitting at only two per cent vacancy.

“We have a strong commitment to the commercial evolution of the Parramatta CBD, and thanks to the building’s proximity to key transport links, entertainment and recreation hubs, it will also provide an enhanced work and life balance for workers.”

Head of office development at Grosvenor Fund Management Australia, Anthony Lombardo, said the building’s prime location, elegant design and strong sustainability features proved to be key factors for tenants in differentiating the project from its competition.

“Office rental rates in Parramatta are approximately half the price of comparable quality stock in the Sydney CBD. However, for many companies it’s no longer just about finding a competitive rental deal and cutting occupancy costs by relocating or growing their operations in Parramatta.

“It’s also about having a genuine strategic need to be located in close proximity to Western Sydney in order to capitalise on emerging growth opportunities in this exciting and dynamic region,” he said.