Developers face off in battle to build WA police HQ

Major developers including property heavyweight Lendlease and GDI, the listed Elanor Investors Group, interests associated with tycoon Kerry Stokes and the proponents of a World Trade Centre are believed to be vying to develop Western Australia’s new police headquarters, with bids closed this week.

GDI signalled its hopes of securing the police tower at its results announcement, saying it was working closely with Lendlease on its planned 1 Mill St complex.

GDI has submitted plans for a proposed new building at Mill Street and also submitted on the basis the police could take out all of Westralia Square, where much of the force is now located.

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The police want to precommit to a tower where they could occupy 25,000sqm in 2023, potentially rising to 45,000sqm in 2026.

The police are hoping to strike a deal this financial year. The lease at Westralia Square runs out in April next year.

But GDI and Lendlease will face stiff competition from a range of groups, with Cbus Property working with an undisclosed local landowner on a proposal for a major tower.

The Kings Square precinct, in which the Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven Group Holdings has an interest, is also in the running.

The media group, the construction superannuation fund-backed group and World Trade Centre declined to comment.

Elanor is also looking at a proposal involving an office block in Stirling Street that it is buying. The group, which has assembled a consortium to back its plans, could develop a 36,000sqm tower.

Elanor would not be drawn on its plans, but observers says all the sites could one day draw fresh corporate tenants as the Perth market starts to recover.

Perth’s office market has surged, with CBRE predicting that the city will this year see the highest level of prime net effective rental growth of all major CBD markets. Incentives in the Perth CBD fell by 100 basis points in the last quarter of 2018, with a further contraction forecast in 2019.

Combined with some nominal rental growth, Perth’s prime net effective rents are forecast to grow by 8.8% this year.

Agents say it was difficult to find contiguous floors in the city and development pipelines have paused, which limits options for tenants.

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