Industry superannuation fund-backed property investor ISPT, in partnership with Victoria University (VU) has officially opened its landmark education facility, VU City Tower this week. Set at 29 levels (plus three levels of car parking), the vertical campus located in the heart of the CBD at 370 Little Lonsdale Street is now the southern hemisphere’s tallest education facility, spanning 24,146 sqm NLA with an end value of $385M.
VU City Tower is the culmination of a successful partnership between ISPT, VU and the Victorian Department of Education and Training, which has seen ISPT assume the role of sole developer, asset owner and investment manager for its first education project as it expands and diversifies into new sectors.
The project is a key addition to ISPT’s development portfolio and represents an important extension of investment as ISPT expands into the education sector, and as it seeks out future opportunities for expansion across a range of industries to diversify for their investors, some of Australia’s largest industry superannuation funds.
The new campus consists of two buildings, the heritage listed Former Records Office at 295 Queen Street, which has been retained and developed into VU’s Law Campus, and the new VU City Tower which sits adjacent and can accommodate a maximum of 5,400 students.
ISPT has also acquired the neighbouring heritage listed Land Titles Office at 283 Queen Street, with future plans to create a commercial mixed-use development that will restore the important heritage building while further activating and enhancing the precinct to revitalize this iconic part of the city.
ISPT acquired the sites from VU in 2018, with VU signing on as the sole tenant partner under a 30-year lease agreement. This project represents an extensively collaborative design and construction process across all stakeholder groups, with over 160 workshop meetings and briefings held to conceptualise, refine and co-create a truly fit-for-purpose, world-class education facility for VU.
The project was delivered well under budget and on program despite the unprecedented global pandemic and the impacts of construction industry shutdowns, reaching practical completion in January 2022 and first opened to students on 26th April 2022.
Designed by Jackson Architecture with interiors by Woods Baggot, VU City Tower is a 5-star green rated, industry-leading building that consolidates a number of VU’s former campuses into the one vertical education facility while revitalising this iconic part of the CBD.
The all-encompassing tower redefines the learning experience by offering both vocational and higher education courses on the one campus to enable greater opportunities for students; designed for the VU Block Model with 47 smaller purpose-built classrooms, plus specialist learning and clinic spaces to support practical and immersive delivery modes.
VU City Tower has been created with the end-user experience front of mind, offering a multitude of custom-designed student- centric spaces throughout the building to encourage connection and collaboration through a range of dwell zones, including a student hub on level 10, alongside public integration zones that open the building to the community.
On the completion of the project, ISPT Senior Development Manager Jason Lourensz said:
“We are incredibly proud to announce the official opening of VU City Tower, our first education project and an industry-leading building that has been developed in collaboration with VU, and with the support of all project partners. Designed as a reimagined campus of the future, the building represents the forward-thinking aspirations and vision of the University, and we are looking forward to welcoming teachers and students to bring the precinct to life.
“The successful completion of VU City Tower underpins ISPT’s capacity to deliver high-quality investment-grade properties, safely and as promised, regardless of the unprecedented industry challenges. The vertical campus showcases our skills in the significant and growing education sector, and our ability to transfer our knowledge to a broad range of industries as we grow our portfolio across new sectors.
“The education sector is critical to the economy and this project diversifies our exposure and that of our investors to this key sector, while ISPT seeks opportunities for future growth across the education and health industries to further expand the portfolio, leveraging the existing skills and expertise within the business.”
ISPT Partnership Specialist Letitia Hope further adds “The relationship we have developed with VU demonstrates the deepening of our partnership approach, as we commit to driving new business ecosystems that support long-term precinct performance and returns. Our vision is focussed on acquiring and developing investment grade precincts in partnership with key tenant partners, to deliver long-term security for investors.
“Located in the heart of the CBD, this state-of-the-art education precinct is set to support the city’s revitalisation and drive growth through its dynamic design for learning and teaching, as well as the complete integration of industry partners for experiential learning opportunities.
“We have been thrilled to work alongside VU to develop a forward-thinking building that has been designed for a new style of learning, meeting the current and future needs of staff and students as the requirements of education facilities evolve.
“The three ISPT-owned properties within this locality represent a prime example of ISPT’s approach to precinct placemaking, as we focus on creating a destination that enriches, excites and energises through an eco-system of purposeful partnerships.”
On the partnership with ISPT, Victoria University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Adam Shoemaker said “The VU City Tower is a physical realisation of Victoria University’s ambitious vision to be a global leader in dual sector education and research, marking an exciting new era for VU. With a single entrance for higher education, TAFE, research, and industry- immersion, the VU City Tower opens the door to endless opportunities.
“ISPT’s drive and commitment to excellence ensured we achieved a dream first conceived almost a decade ago. Our collaboration truly encompasses the University’s partnering with principle approach – together, we have created a campus of the future that embraces our unique way of teaching and learning in every corner.
“Carefully designed, purpose-built spaces maximise the VU Block Model in the best way possible and public-facing practice clinics provide invaluable experiences. No room is the same and lecture theatres are thing of the past. But they do have one thing in common: a student-centred focus that inspires brilliance.
“It’s the VU Block on the city block. It’s the place to be. We are incredibly proud to be here and look forward to welcoming students, colleagues, industry partners and the community for many years to come.”