Massive building needs 1700 public servants

A massive empty building worth many tens of millions of dollars, built under the gaze of Parliament House, now needs a couple of thousand public servants to fill it.

Five-levels of office space covering 24,000 square metres has been erected at 1 Canberra Avenue despite a number of cyclical challenges.

A surplus of vacant office space in the ACT has now been dragging on for several years and the latest austerity measures placed on the federal public service will reduce the Canberra-based Commonwealth bureaucracy by an estimated 6500 by 2018.

All real estate agents have the opportunity of approaching the building's owner, the 40-year-old locally-owned family business Willemsen Group, with potential tenants.

Photos from inside the building show striking spiral staircases behind the glass-dominated front of the structure built by Hindmarsh on the corner of Canberra Avenue and National Circuit in Forrest. There was a three-storey underground car park and 700 square metres of common-use atrium space. 


One territory agent, Paul Powderly, said the construction of the building would probably prove "fortune favours the brave".

"High vacancy rates don't last forever," said Mr Powderly, who added that a large Commonwealth tenant would be the preferable tenant. 

"And there's still churn in the marketplace." 

Commonwealth standards allow for 14 square metres per public servant, which would mean about 1700 would be needed to fill 1 Canberra Avenue if the federal bureaucracy were to move in.

A number of new commercial buildings in Barton and Forrest have been built recently, such as 28 Sydney Avenue, a 6000-square-metres structure to be filled with IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers and other as yet unknown tenants.

The 5250-square-metre building at 2 National Circuit was leased to the Office of National Assessments while 4 National Circuit still had some of its almost 30,000 sqare metres of space vacant, Mr Powderly said. 

The vacancy rate in Canberra increased in the past six months to 13.6 per cent,  according to the Property Council of Australia’s Office Market Report.

Canberra’s office market vacancy rate increased from 12.9 per cent reported in January 2014, to the highest level of vacancy since July 2010.