LaSalle Investment Management files plans for new $200mn commercial tower

A US $200mn commercial tower is to take shape above Melbourne’s heritage-listed Comedy Theatre. The project is being led by LaSalle Investment Management (LIM), an independent subsidiary of JLL, who has filed its plans with the Future Melbourne Planning Committee. LIM currently manages approximately US $1.8bn in assets in Australia.

LIM notes it will partner with theatre owner Marriner Group to unlock the site and build the cantilevered 35-storey tower, which is expected to reach a height of 127m. The tower is to have a total gross floor area of 91,600sqm which includes 18,000sqm of commercial net leasable area (NLA) and will target a 5-Star Green Star Building rating.

As per plans by design house Architectus, LaSalle plans to demolish the existing carpark building at 222 Exhibition Street and an existing fly tower at the rear of the theatre to create a 5,900sqm development site. Heritage overlays apply to 240 Exhibition Street and the Comedy Theatre’s fly tower. While the fly tower is intended to be removed, plans include the retention of the historic facade of the theatre, on Lonsdale Street, LIM noted.

In July 2022, JLL’s Ben Jackson shared insights into future cities and how its micro-communities will better respond to people’s needs, whether for work or leisure.

The planned tower will be built on top of a two-storey basement and will have a six-storey podium that includes two 150sqm rehearsal spaces on levels three and five respectively, which will connect to the upper gallery of the theatre building. The podium will also include mezzanine spaces on level six and eight, as well as a 700sqm restaurant and rooftop terrace on level seven. From there the tower will cantilever over the theatre from level nine, providing a 660sqm floor, before jutting out again at level 16 through to level 21 offering larger 780sqm floors and 844sqm floors from levels 22 to 32.

As part of the development, LaSalle plans to upgrade the theatre with contemporary stage facilities, an expanded stage and back of house area, along with a new fly tower that will allow the theatre to compete for and accommodate larger shows. A new direct access to Lonsdale Street will also be created to enable performers and staff requiring accessibility facilities to access and work in the venue for the first time.

This commercial proposal seeks to provide much-needed enhancements to the Comedy Theatre, including associated conservation works. It will also inject new activity and amenity into a prominent corner of Melbourne’s CBD through carefully considered building program crafted around a theatre-led narrative, the developer concluded.

In June, JLL said it would manage Magnom Properties’ regional real estate projects and, later in the month, it named David Duke as Head of International Residential in KSA.

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