447 Collins Street has been a drain for the unlisted property fund. Photo: Craig Abraham
ISPT has spent $10 million so far shoring up the crumbling facade of 447 Collins Street but it is likely to take years before the building is ready for occupation again.
The repairs and lost rental income is tipped to become a massive expenditure for the unlisted property fund, which paid $81 million for the building in 2004.
The facade of the 20-storey office tower was deemed a public hazard after a two-square-metre marble slab plunged 10 floors into the plaza in January. Emergency repairs involved many of the 1200 marble panels in the facade being clamped in place or stripped away, but the forecourt and most of the exterior is still fenced off.
ISPT recently received permission from the Melbourne City Council to reclad the western facade in aluminum in order to reopen the entrance on William Street.
''We'll have spent about $10 million from the point when the stone first fell until the William Street end is done with the [aluminum] panels,'' chief executive Daryl Browning said. ''That work will commence shortly and go through to the middle of next year to get it done.''
Anchor tenant Suncorp, which will move to 530 Collins Street mid-next year, has been accessing the building via a protected walkway.
After Suncorp's departure, the facade of the entire building will be reclad in aluminum as a ''temporary fix'' for up to five years until a permanent solution is found, the council said.
Mr Browning said there was no deadline for completion of the work and it could take years before the 30,183-square-metre office and retail space is ready to be released.
''We're not sure what the permanent fix may be - all options are under consideration. What happens beyond [the temporary fix] depends on market forces, tenant demand and the economics of refurbishment or redevelopment.''
The future of the property is believed to hinge on whether Planning Minister Matthew Guy designates the 1964 ''internationalist style'' building as historically significant after a recommendation by the council late last year.
The National Trust considers the building ''one of the best examples of the modernist ethos of towers set back behind a plaza'', but that the current repair plan means the building will lose the original marble cladding ''integral'' to its design.
A council spokeswoman said the council had no power to demand the facade be returned to its original state. ISPT applied for and received approval to build a 11-storey office building and two-storey retail ''icon'' building on the forecourt of 447 Collins in 2006. The group has previously suggested plans that include demolishing the existing building.