Over the course of 2015, agreements have been reached with new tenants over four full floors and multiple suites, including to Magellan Asset Management, SMS Consulting Group, Milford Australia, Legacy Property Group and Pym’s Technology Lawyers.
The increase in occupancy coincides with the completion of the MLC Centre’s first stage of redevelopment, including a new food court, premier End-of-Trip facilities and the arrival of high-end supermarket, IGA Romeo’s Food Hall.
Managing Director of QIC Global Real Estate, Steven Leigh said leasing interest in MLC continued to demonstrate the attractiveness of the Centre’s prime location and amenity.
“MLC Centre’s occupancy rate reflects the market’s desire for prime Sydney office tower space incorporating a strong mix of quality food retail and conveniences,” Mr Leigh said.
GPT Group’s Head of Office & Logistics Matthew Faddy said the arrival of the new tenants marked a stellar quarter of leasing for the MLC Centre.
“At the start of 2014, the MLC Centre’s occupancy was 66 per cent. Today, we are close to full occupancy, with prominent local and international companies responding extremely positively to our investment in the asset.”
“We’ve found that tenants are not only looking for a convenient location and flexible workspace, but market leading amenities that let their employees and visitors shop, eat, socialise and enjoy cultural events,” Mr. Faddy said.
“It’s about completeness in offering and that goes back to Harry Seidler’s original philosophy, which has remained at the centre of our redevelopment plans.”
Foot traffic in the MLC Centre’s newly developed food court, which includes premium tenants Schnitz, Bun Me and Burger Project, is up 42.74 per cent year on year to January 2016.
Mr. Faddy said the MLC Centre’s recent success could partly be attributed to a surge in smaller tenants, with 20 of the leasing deals in the last year being for spaces less than 500 square metres.
“This segment of the market is strong and we’ve responded to it. We have split entire floors into smaller suites and this has appealed to business owners that want a premium address, but are conscious of efficiencies.”
Mr. Faddy said the trend had contributed to a varied tenant mix, providing stability in the long term.
“Once upon a time the MLC Centre may have been considered predominately a home for barristers and legal professionals. Now, in addition to expanding our legal tenant base we have welcomed diverse tenants, ranging from technology businesses to financial services firms and media companies.”
“In the long run this safeguards us from single occupier exposure, and it also allows us to support any business in its growth cycle. Small tenants of today could be large, thriving businesses in the future and the MLC Centre want to help them get there,” Mr. Faddy said.
Magellan Asset Management, who recently signed a ten year lease securing over 2,423 square metres at the MLC Centre, will relocate around 80 Sydney-based staff to the new premises.
“The MLC Centre’s central location, ease of access to public transport and excellent End-of-Trip facilities will have strong appeal to Magellan’s current and future employees,” said Nerida Campbell, Magellan’s Chief Operating Officer.
Mr. Faddy said that part of the MLC Centre’s success is related to a broader revitalisation in Martin Place, with the precinct attracting a number of prominent technology companies.
“Increasingly, we’ve seen technology companies arrive in Martin Place that have strong business models, which demand blue-chip space.”
“These tenants are drawn in by the heritage feel of Martin Place, but what it often comes down to is an address that will attract the best talent. Employees want access to transport and compelling facilities, but also want to be proud when they tell their friends and family where they work,” Mr. Faddy said.
Alberto Yates, Regional Manager at Booking.com, who recently oversaw the company’s move to the MLC Centre, said the building has everything they need to continue their growth.
“It’s centrally located in the heart of the city, making it easy for our employees to access and enjoy the best of the CBD and secondly, our layout is open plan, perfect for our teams to interact and collaborate,” Mr. Yates said.
The MLC Centre has also maintained its appeal for even some of its longest-serving tenants.
“It’s got everything going for it. It’s got a fantastic outlook,’’ said the founder and chairman of BMF Group Barry Mendel who will next month mark his 35th anniversary in the building.
BMF, which started off in a small serviced office in the building now occupies two-thirds of a floor, and last year finalised an extension of its lease for an extra ten years. Mr. Mendel said the recent refurbishment of the MLC, which includes a luxury End-of-Trip bike facility and upgraded office space, has only boosted the appeal of the building for his staff.
The renewal of the MLC Centre will also see a major refurbishment of the 1100-seat Theatre Royal, which has been leased to the world’s largest live-theatre company Ambassador Theatre Group.