TRISH Innes has grown accustomed to breaking new ground in premium CBD office property management.
When appointed to the role of Exchange Plaza general manager at just 26, Ms Innes became the youngest general manager of a premium office tower in Australia. Two years on the 2004 40under40 Award winner has reduced the building’s vacancy rate to 6 per cent.
During Ms Innes’s tenure Exchange Plaza’s total value has increased by 11.57 per cent, and she is currently planning to steer the building into a new direction in the delivery of property management.
While Exchange Plaza isn’t the most up-to-date building in terms of technical specifications, its asking rents are second only to QV1 in the Perth CBD office leasing market. Ms Innes believes this achievement is based on the level of quality service delivery Exchange Plaza provides its tenants.
Over the next 12 months Ms Innes plans to further drive the service focus of Exchange Plaza by repositioning the building into something similar to the style of a boutique hotel.
The boutique hotel strategy comprises a million-dollar refurbishment of the lobby, a proposal to install an up-market restaurant on the ground floor, and more efficient turnaround of service delivery for tenants.
The Exchange Plaza marketing campaign is also currently being renewed to reflect this new approach to the building’s management ethos.
“We are slowly taking the feel and the service level to that of a five-star hotel,” Ms Innes said.
“I believe the market and tenants appreciate the level of service and the level of quality.”
She said the building would present more like a hotel through the implementation of staff uniforms and the lobby’s refurbishment into a space that was more welcoming and “warmer”.
Around 40 per cent of the building’s population work in the financial or broking sector and often worked late, Ms Innes told WA Business News. In order to service this late-night traffic, the proposed restaurant will have a liquor licence and be open from 6am until late.
The capital works program and restaurant are expected to be complete by the end of 2004.
Ms Innes’s commitment to high-quality service and the creation of a working environment and lifestyle for tenants has proved to be successful in the competitive leasing market.
When Ms Innes was appointed to the role of general manager of Exchange Plaza, 74 per cent of the building was heading for lease expiry.
Today, more than 80 per cent of the building is secured in leases beyond 2007-2008, while 70 per cent is leased beyond 2009-2010.
Ms Innes said three new deals had been recently signed off and that a total of 13,000 square metres had been leased since January this year.
Other recent deals include Australian Bureau of Statistics signing up for 5000sq m for 10 years and Patterson Ord Minnet taking out 2324sq m for seven years.
The building’s vacancy currently sits at 6 per cent, however Ms Innes said she was confident new leasing inquiry would soon absorb that.
“Last year everyone was tentative,” she said.
“People are now confident and are commiting.”
While last year’s sluggish leasing market pushed up Exchange Plaza’s incentive levels, Ms Innes told WA Business News these did not reach the levels of 25 to 30 per cent, as was occurring in other buildings.
“Incentives are starting to decrease already and I expect incentives will decrease significantly by the middle of the year,” she said.
“Last year everyone was tentative. People are now confident and are commiting..”