COMPLETIONS of buildings at Subiaco’s Subi Centro precinct is attracting big business and driving up the cost of leasing space across the Subiaco district.
Commercial activity has increased significantly in the past three months according to Subiaco Redevelopment Authority project director Mark Hedges.
“It has been gaining momentum for the past 18 months but there has been a marked increase in the past three to four months as new buildings are completed,” he said.
“With the names that we have we now have the quality of tenants to attract more activity.
“Earmarked to move in are Computer Sciences Corporation that will house 400 employees. The building is currently under construction on the corner of Hay and Roberts. It’s a five-story building that will be completed in July this year.
“In the past three to four months we have had Toyota Financial Services, 303 Advertising, and Hames Sharley Architects move into brand new buildings in the Subi Centro area.”
Knight Frank associate director, office leasing Greg Thurston said two years ago rents in the new development were in the high hundreds but were now approaching $240 a square meter.
He said the popularity of the new development was largely due to the proximity of offices to amenities.
“They can stand on the doorstep and have the train station 100 meters away and are very close to the cappuccino strip and retail,” Mr Thurston said.
“There is nowhere else outside the CBD where you can have the office precinct, cappuccino strip, shopping, and the train.”
Mr Thurston said space was scarce but towards the middle of the year more sites would become available.
“Right now there wouldn’t be much more than 2,000 square meters available and there is a fair bit of interest in that. In six months there will be three or four buildings completed and we will see another influx,” he said.
Interest in traditional areas of Subiaco has also hotted up.
Raine and Horne Commercial managing director Peter Vetten said the demand for sites in Subiaco had picked up and better quality tenants were moving in.
“Rents have risen. On Rokeby Road it’s about $420 a square metre and on Churchill Avenue it’s about $200 to $280 a square metre,” he said.
The increased activity in the area has sparked parking concerns from some retailers.
Subiaco Business Association president Ian Smith said parking was an issue, particularly for retailers.
“The anecdotal evidence from the retailers’ point of view is that they would like to see more parking,” he said.
The City of Subiaco released an ARRB Transport Research report earlier this year that evaluated Subiaco’s parking requirements.
The report states that: “there is generally ample parking available in the town centre except at specific peak periods and at the most popular car parks”.
The report recommends that there be no expansion, or limited expansion, of off-street car parking capacity based on development, over time, of smaller scale, decked car parks (probably limited to two or three levels).
There are 2,800 car parking bays at present and according to ARRB if Subiaco experiences medium growth it will require an additional 1,685 car bays by 2005.
City of Subiaco director of corporate services Chris Liversage said the city would examine the reports findings and decide whether to implement higher fees or time restrictions to minimise demand for peak car parks.
“The city will look at the car parks that are overused and come up with a plan on whether we should up the charges or restrict the time to park there or whether we shouldn’t,” he said.
Mr Liversage said that while the City was active in promoting public transport it had not neglected parking requirements.
“The City of Subiaco’s most recent purchase was an old house in Rowland Street in 1999. The city owns land either side of the house and spent $460,000 converting the area into a car park,” he said.
“We’re just about to do another project further down, much closer to Hay Street. It involves a land swap where we offer people a better piece of retail. It will be 3,500 square meters.”
He said the city was looking at making it a decked parking lot.
The Subiaco Central Business District Parking Strategy is open for public submission until February 17.
Small to medium sized businesses will be able to move into new sites that will be released by the SRA this year.
“There is a small lot for commercial sub division that will appeal to the smaller investor. It would in the range three quarter of a million investment,” Mr Hedges said.
SRA has spent $115 million since 1994 redeveloping the area and its next key project, the relocation of Australia Fine China is expected to be one of the SRA’s final deals before ceasing operation in 2007 or 2008.
“We are in negotiations with them [Australian Fine China]. If it goes to plan we will develop the site in 2004 for sales in 2005,” Mr Hedges said.
He said that redevelopment would eat most of the SRA’s remaining pennies.
“We have another $10 million to go on works.
“That will be purely the Australian Fine China site and other incidental works.”
It is expected a decision by the liquor licensing court will determine whether Subiaco will be home to a new tavern next month.
If applicant Sonja Gastevach is successful with liquor licensing authorities a new $4.5 million tavern will open in 12 months time at the Subi Centro site.
“I really want to do it. It will be a good establishment aimed at the 25 and over market,” she said.
The building design includes 150 parking bays and, according to Ms Gastevach, there is sufficient parking in the area.
“When the football is on where do 30,000 people park? We will be right next to the train station,” she said.
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