Harries builds future with modular design

An innovative modular office/warehouse concept is being introduced to the commercial and industrial site at Perth Airport by a South African based company, following its success with the design overseas.

Harries Projects had such faith in the project that it proceeded with it on a speculative basis, a move that has paid off as it has already attracted pre-commitments on half the available space.

Most development at the airport is for huge industrial warehouses with a small office component, but the Harries project will provide about a 50-50 split of office and warehouse over the entire 7667m2 of lettable space. Harries Projects bought the 1.56ha leasehold site 18 months ago and impressed Westralia Airports Corporation with its extensive pre-design work for the project, known as Perth Airport Park One. The development’s triangular office-park layout and design focus on cutting edge design, tenant flexibility and a sense of community.

Tenants already committed include two public companies, IPN & Computronics , plus construction firm Ahrens Construction and communication group Visionstream. More tenants are in the final negotiation stage with leasing agents Knight Frank and CB Richard Ellis. The rents range from $250/m2 to $290/m2 for offices and average $120/m2 for warehouse space.

Harries Projects senior partner, Marc Harries, said the company had been developing property in South Africa for more than 25 years and had done major office buildings, housing subdivisions and retirement villages, in addition to commercial and industrial projects.

The model employed at Perth Airport had proved successful in South Africa with individual spaces able to be linked either vertically or horizontally to form larger spaces or small suites. “At Harries Projects we look at all developments from a very strong architectural focus,” Mr. Harries said. “It will also be extremely functional, with tenants able to mix and match the various suites they want, depending on the office/warehouse mix they are trying to achieve”. Knight Frank commercial and industrial director Martin Reeson, who dealt with Harries Projects on the leasehold land purchase and is now joint leasing the project, said the development filed a niche. A lot of companies that traditionally separated their office and industrial requirements on different sites were now recognising the value of consolidation and the need for higher office space ratio. “One of the companies looking closely at this project (Computronics) has already opted for a strong office focus by combining four of the office suites,” Mr. Reeson said. “Others are keen to have a more traditional mix of office and warehouse.”

CBRE’s Warick Irving said the Perth Airport land was located at the epicentre of Perth’s rail, road and air transport networks and would become recognised as the essential destination for distribution, warehousing, transport and logistics operations. “Not only is this the largest and best located industrial area in WA but is also attracting the lion’s share of blue chip tenants”, Mr. Irving said. “The roads and all associated infrastructure are in place and it has immediate links not only to the airport and railway, but to the Tonkin, Leach, Roa and Great Eastern Highways. There is also the additional security, profile, quality and streamlined development process of being on Commonwealth land”

Harries Projects plans to develop other projects in WA after Perth Airport One, which is due to be ready by December. The company won the prestigious Bentley International Award for Best Residential Development last year for its Island Club project in Cape Town. It is a mixed-use 445 apartment, boutique hotel and retail development. A second Bentley Award was won for the Oasis Luxury Retirement Resort in South Africa, which includes 1 120 bed care centre, 450 apartments and a clubhouse and wellness centre.

Source:  The West Australian, 12 November 2008