Where The Office Becomes A Home

St Kilda Rd Towers

Executive Director, Jonathan Deague, told us that although the building was finished some eight years ago, the novelty has far from worn off and it continues to be in constant demand, especially for new or young businesses that can benefit most from the way such a wide variety of services are available on site.

On the south side of the central business district of Melbourne are, among many other attractions, two parks – the Botanical Gardens and Albert Park. Separating them is the main road out of the Victorian capital down toward the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay; and just at the point where St Kilda Rd becomes the Princes Highway (well, a fraction to the west of that point at the top of Queens Road) is a building that has become quite a local landmark: St Kilda Rd Towers.

From the upper floors of this unusual, integrated and almost ‘intelligent’ tower can be seen some spectacular views, especially southwest out across the lake of Albert Park (that’s the one round which, each March, the Australian Grand Prix races) and across the sea as the bay widens.

Due to the size of the project there are always comings and goings and at the moment there is a campaign to increase occupancy to around 95 per cent, says Jonathan. “With its focus on small to medium sized businesses, you get a lot of short-term tenants, a lot of start-ups, so companies come in and grow within the building. We were at a stage where the occupancy was very high, it dropped down a little and now we are seeing the market turn upwards again.”

The main difference between St Kilda Rd Towers and other office buildings in the area is the flexibility offered by the option to start off with a serviced office on a short-term lease, “so people can start off on a month-to-month basis.” Then if they wish to go to a longer lease or more space they can move up within the building, taking any telecoms equipment and – important of course – their phone numbers, with them. “Basically, we can relocate them in a day,” says Jonathan. As occupants continue to grow, they have further options to move within the building, “which is so large that there are always plenty of options. Our ideal client starts off as a home-office, using our virtual office options, then moves into the building as a serviced office tenant and then has the option to expand into a longer term office space with MCO.”

Facilities are good, to say the least. There is a large undercover carpark, gymnasium, food court, restaurant, dry cleaning, newsagent, storage facilities, a medical precinct and a whole range of ancillary services from accountants to chiropractors. “It’s really handy having such a full range of services actually there in the building,” says Jonathan.

Regarding serviced offices, this is not handled by a third party as in most buildings. “We look after this ourselves, through Asian Pacific Serviced Offices,” which also manages serviced office accommodation elsewhere in Victoria and as far away as Adelaide. It is better to be managed in-house, Jonathan explains, “because if you are dealing with an exterior operator, you sign, say, a one-year lease and if you want to expand they will not let you out of that lease – you are locked in. But we allow the flexibility that small businesses value.” The St Kilda Rd Towers options even include purchasing either as an owner occupier or an investor – there are suites in the building for purchase as well as for lease. Businesses can stay and grow for as long as they wish.

“The majority of tenants are the one or two person start-ups that then grow with us into small to medium businesses with up to ten to fifteen staff.”

Pricing is keener than it might appear, he says, because in St Kilda Rd Towers, “you are not paying for common areas,” such as toilet or kitchenette facilities in the ‘per square metre’ rates “so it ends up as an overall equation being very affordable. In addition, we are very big on designing people’s offices too, so they are not wasting space. There are a lot of great fit-outs within the building.”

Professionally trained staff run the Asian Pacific Serviced offices to assist clients with a wide range of administrative and secretarial services such as telephone answering, binding and laminating, documentation preparation and boardroom hire. There is also a photocopier/printer, kitchenette and bathrooms on each floor.

With its modern glassy design and with the way it is managed, “the building still looks fantastic and it has a great presence. Internally it still looks very fresh,” says Jonathan. It is also highly convenient: there are six levels of underground car parking, and, “for a building of this size the driving facilities are fantastic – including a drive-in car wash. Although around this area there is not much parking available, we guarantee people working in the building a car park space.” St Kilda Rd is replete with public transport options too, as the Number 8 tram goes up Toorak Road nearby and in the other direction straight up to Flinders St railway station. Melbourne’s international airport (Tullamarine) is just 20 minutes away by car, while closer at hand are streetfuls of restaurants, bars and cafés within walking distance to supplement the food court and the building’s own Squires Loft Restaurant and Bar. The surrounding St Kilda Rd has seen construction of many luxury and prestige apartment blocks in recent years.

Jonathan explains that the building has in effect its own telecommunications company which works to the benefit of all tenants large or small. “We didn’t realise how big this part of the business would become. At first our clients would make their own conventional deals with the likes of Telstra, but then we went out and bought minutes [of airtime] that we could provide at discounted rates to the clients. Really what we do is act as a wholesaler,” doing big-volume deals with the telcos and passing on at rates better than small businesses could do on their own. This of course includes all internet provisions as well as phone services. “It’s a good selling point,” explains Jonathan. It almost goes without saying that the building has state of the art telecomms and VOIP equipment throughout. The in-house services extend further, to furniture (for rental or purchase). “It’s basically a one-stop shop. We can provide almost all the services in the building and we run networking events too for the clients.”

There are benefits to be derived from knowing the neighbours, he says. “It’s good for new tenants to come and meet other tenants; we have a big directory where people can work out who is around in the building.” This comprehensive directory is for tenants across all nine MCO managed buildings, including St Kilda Rd Towers which holds over 500 tenants. “If they are all networking and all doing business, at the end of the day why would they want to leave St Kilda Rd Towers if they have 20 clients of their own in the building? We really promote our service of helping people to network.” For a new start-up especially, it is a real plus to have this “instant database” and be part of a real community within the building.

In essence though, perhaps the central advantage of St Kilda Rd Towers is its attraction to a business person starting up a new venture who is too busy with making that start and getting the business off the ground to want to worry about all the minutiae of setting up shop. Getting a desk and chair and arranging a phone contract are not things that should be top of mind at that time, and the management team is able to absorb all that non-core activity. “Around half our clients come in and ask us to set everything up. They say, ‘time is money’ and we do it all for them. We can cater for all types though, including those for whom the budget is tight as well as those who just want to be straight in and operating ‘tomorrow.’ We pride ourselves on fast turnaround.” So if you are locating to Melbourne (another of Australia’s ‘world’s most liveable cities’), why not jump on the tram and head straight for St Kilda Rd Towers.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 16, 2018, 6:45 AM AEDT