Real Estate partner Kristy Dorney chats with the founding members of Marquette Properties, Matthew Creagh and Toby Lewis about their plans following the acquisition of the Brisbane CBD’s Gold and Blue Towers, green and sustainability initiatives, greenwashing, and their expectations for the commercial office market.
KD Following your acquisition of the famed Blue and Gold Towers in Brisbane CBD’s ‘golden triangle’, you are now planning an eight-storey office development alongside the Gold Tower. How did your strategy around these projects develop and what is your long-term goal?
MC & TL We are investors in office assets and wanted to enter the prime office market— in 2021 we were fortunate to buy the Gold Tower and a year later the Blue Tower.
They are both prime, classic office assets, and we believe the best investing, for us, is in the prime rather than secondary market.
We feel the Eagle Street precinct is the best precinct in Queensland and these assets have growth in value ahead of them, enhanced by Dexus’ city shaping project opposite us at Waterfront Brisbane.
We intend to hold both assets for the medium term towards or post completion of the Dexus project while Brisbane builds momentum as a prime real estate investment city in Asia and towards the ’32 Olympics.
KD Marquette recently announced a collaboration with the CBA for a $2 million green facility to undertake sustainability building upgrades at the newly acquired office building, 189 Grey Street, Southbank. How do green and sustainability initiatives factor into Marquette’s investment and capital raising strategies?
MC & TL We, like the majority of our industry, strive to make our assets as ‘green’ as possible— it’s the right thing to do and it will increasingly bring economic benefit to our investments as tenants seek sustainable, green premises and investors seek sustainable and green assets.
It’s an ever-evolving space and we are on a continual journey to learn and implement the best practices.
At Marquette, we’re particularly focussed on ‘re-use’ and avoiding waste and believe this reduces carbon and is the most ‘sustainable’ thing we can do.
KD ASIC has flagged that it will continue to target ‘greenwashing’ in its oversight of capital raisings. Is ASIC doing enough in this space?
MC & TL Yes. We understand the rationale behind ASIC’s focus on ‘greenwashing’ and preventing harm to consumers and agree some oversight is required—it is important to make sure this oversight doesn’t tip too far and dissuade funds from investing in sustainable alternatives. The private and public sectors don’t get enough credit for how much we’ve done in this space and how we continue to adapt and innovate as new information, methods, and technologies come to light.
KD Is the commercial office market now at where you expected it to be 12 months ago?
MC & TL Pre pandemic, retail was on-the-nose under the threat of internet retailing. Time has proven good retailers and good retail assets will continue to thrive.
We see Covid as the equivalent of the internet shopping threat to retail—soon the world will realise the office and office assets are valuable and essential and the sector will thrive again.
We bought the Gold and Blue Towers counter-cyclically and believe we will be rewarded for making that call.
KD In your view, where are we at in the current property cycle and how is it likely to play out in the next one to two years?
MC & TL 2022 was one of the worst years for stocks and bonds according to many sources and real estate only started to feel the pinch late in 2022. We feel 2023 will be tough for our sector but it will rebound quickly in late 2023 and through 2024 and beyond.