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Chifley Tower, the iconic $1.8 billion office tower occupying almost an entire block in the heart of Sydney’s financial hub, was added to the Charter Hall portfolio this year.
Acquired in partnership with GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Chifley Tower boasts over 68,000sqm of lettable area across 42 office levels as well as 5,000sqm of retail space.
The acquisition of this asset, and others more recently, extends our office portfolio to over $17 billion. But it’s not the value of our assets that matters most – its their ability to inspire and support the business that call them home.
Blue-chip tenants, including major multinationals Morgan Stanley, UBS and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, enjoy some of the finest views of Sydney Harbour and the Botanical Gardens. The building’s lower levels are also home to over 30 retailers, including high fashion, food and beverage and a wellness club.
In November, we took over asset management of this prestigious A-grade property, with a new eight-strong management team that includes five women, headed up by General Manager Gemma Seabourne.
“As a property manager, it’s about ensuring our office assets meet the aspirations of our tenants,” says Gemma.
No stranger to overseeing large A-grade office assets, Gemma previously managed major Sydney commercial properties One Farrer Place and Australia Square. But she says the support the Chifley team have enjoyed while settling in has been invaluable.
Four of her team transferred over from Chifley’s previous managers, Knight Frank. “So they are new to Charter Hall, and I'm new to both Chifley and to Charter Hall,’’ says Gemma. “As you can imagine it’s been a really busy time. We’ve had to quickly bring ourselves up to speed, while striving to make the changeover as smooth as possible.
“There are not too many office buildings like Chifley Tower. It’s so iconic and premium that its tenant customers become really attached to it and don’t want to leave.
Chifley has developed its own community, and a strong brand of its own. To capitalise on that, Gemma and her team don’t plan to make any sweeping changes until they’ve had a chance to meet all their tenant customers and understand any potential pain points. However, they are currently consolidating the few empty suites in the building with the aim of bringing one whole floor to the market.
“We're really excited about this because it's low rise, at level 9,’’ says Gemma. “It’s at a really good price point for a premium asset like Chifley. The previous managers were achieving some record rents here and I expect that to continue given the levels of demand we’re seeing. We anticipate the level will be snapped up as soon as it's on the market, and we will then be fully let.’’
Charter Hall’s culture has also impressed Gemma and her team. “Naturally we've had lots of questions. We’ve had to rely on our colleagues a few times and I've just been overwhelmed by the amount of support we’ve been given. I’ve never experienced that in an organisation before … What stands out at Charter Hall is the work culture. People here are incredibly good at what they do and so helpful. Whether it’s capital works, the lease administration team or the customer service help desk, everyone has been fantastic.’’
Chifley is a jewel in the crown of Charter Hall’s managed office portfolio, says Matthew Brown, Head of Office Investment Management, and provides a boon for investors looking to buy into a premium property pool like the Charter Hall Prime Office Fund (CPOF). The fact that such a significant asset has been entrusted to this team is an important signal to the wider sector.
“It’s really pleasing to see a predominantly female team taking responsibility for one of our most significant assets,’’ said Matthew. “As a company, we emphasise mutual success and hiring people who will enable us to perform to our potential and do right by our customers.
The appointment of Gemma and her team is a practical demonstration of the strong commitment we’ve made as a company to furthering leadership roles for women and introducing greater diversity into a critically important part of our business and the wider economy.”