The stubbornly high vacancy rate in Perth’s older CBD offices is a unique opportunity to fill a gap in the city’s housing offerings by encouraging building conversions to retirement housing and aged care facilities, according to a leading mixed-use property design firm.
Despite vacancies tightening in Perth’s newer Prime and A-grade offices the latest Property Council of Australia office market report also shows vacancies in Perth’s ageing B & C grade buildings in the CBD remain around 30% and 20% respectively.
“Traditional building conversions in the CBD target hotels and apartments. However these sectors are already being catered for in new developments.
“But there are no supplies of new retirement housing and aged care facilities in Perth’s CBD, which could present an ideal opportunity to consider this form of building conversion or redevelopment”, said KPA Architects Director Todd Paterson.
“A lack of seniors housing in the CBD is a problem for most Australian cities. However office vacancies are much lower in other capitals compared to Perth, and there is less incentive to supply seniors housing because returns are better in office development.
“The modern thinking about locating senior’s housing is changing and today the strong preference is to be around other activities in busier locations, like retail and wellness centres in mixed use developments.
“For example, mixed use property development including seniors’ housing is already happening in the suburbs like Landcorp’s Multi-Aged Precinct (MAP) in Claremont.
“We believe a MAP could work well in the eastern end of the CBD close to Royal Perth Hospital and emerging wellness providers around Hibernian Place. Some of the CBD’s oldest offices with the highest vacancies are also located here.
“Only three per cent of Perth’s CBD resident population is over 75 years of age. In comparison, over six per cent of the state-wide population is over 75.
“The low number of seniors living in the city centre coupled with under-utilised ageing office buildings presents a unique opportunity to broaden the CBD’s demographic base as well as an economic solution for the office market”, said Mr Paterson.