A reinvigorated David Jones menswear building at 299 Bourke Street will be a remarkable and unique beacon for the Bourke Street Mall and the CBD, under plans for the iconic property unveiled by Newmark Capital.

Newmark purchased the property in the midst of Melbourne’s 2020 lockdown. Its commitment to high quality real estate and vision to revitalise  this iconic building is demonstrated by the plans, already submitted to the City of Melbourne and Heritage Victoria.

The building’s dormant upper floors will be transformed into large, loft-style office spaces with high ceilings, an abundance of natural light and new rooftop terraces. The lower ground, ground and first floors will be dedicated to a premium retail offering.

Leading architects Bates Smart’s design will enhance the historic Bourke Street Mall frontage with a stylish shopfront, metal canopies and glazed facade, sympathetic to the existing heritage fabric. The upper level offices will be accessed by a dedicated office lobby on Little Collins Street, to be known as 280 Little Collins Street.

Managing Director of Bates Smart Simon Swaneys aid the refurbished building would be “a remarkable, unique offering in the heart of the city”.

“This is a building of significance, combined with contemporary facilities and amazing technology,” he said.

Newmark’s general manager property Angus Machutchison said the revitalised building will make an exciting contribution to Melbourne.

“The addition of rooftop entertaining areas gives tenants a unique perspective of the CBD and a tremendous enhancement to the traditional workplace provided in the city,” he said.

“299 Bourke Street also sits at the pinnacle of Australian retail, a prestige building in Melbourne’s prime shopping location. This is a rare opportunity in a genuine flagship location.”

“Our vision for 299 Bourke offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity, as well as unparalleled amenity in the heart of the city,” said Mr Machutchison. “The offices will provide true workplaces of the future.”

“A redeveloped 299 Bourke Street can play a pivotal role in attracting people back to the CBD as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19,” Mr Machutchison said.

“The CBD is at the heart of Melbourne’s working and cultural life and will bounce back strongly – it is what makes our city unique.”

The building’s basement, ground and first floors will be dedicated to a premium retail offering whilst the  upper floors, used primarily as storage for decades, will be opened up as modern offices.

Mr Swaney said the building’s four office floors had large floor plates and significant natural light, offering flexibility, large meeting places and interconnectivity, he said.

“What’s great is having modern facilities within an overlay of identity and real character, along with access to outdoor space,” he said.

The office leasing campaign will be conducted jointly by agents JLL and Colliers.

JLL senior director Nick Drake said since the onset of COVID-19, businesses are looking for innovative ways to attract people back into the office.

“Occupiers are looking for unique office spaces to assist in staff engagement and collaboration, and that’s what 299 Bourke Street provides,” he said.

“It is far from the traditional corporate tower as it benefits from large floor plates, high ceilings and various outdoor terrace and entertainment areas that provide different experiences throughout the workplace, all in a location which has everything at your fingertips.”

Collier’s national director office leasing Edward Knowles said that tenants were seeking more amenity and 299 Bourke Street sits at the true activity centre of the CBD, bordering the main commercial precinct, tapping east end food and beverage, whilst fronting the retail core of the Bourke Street Mall.

“It’s not only a beautiful, heritage-style building taken to A-grade office standard,” Mr Knowles said. “This is a place being transformed for organisations looking at different ways to enable office working.”

“It has best in class architects, large side core office floorplates, wonderfully high ceilings, great natural light and is enabled with new technology – it’s prime office space in such an unparalleled location.”

Mr Machutchison acknowledged the iconic building occupied a “unique place in Melbourne’s retail history” and said the refurbishment would take a respectful approach to the building’s history and character.

“Our vision for the building is inspired by the original architecture and stays true to 299 Bourke Street’s history while adding new, high-quality retail spaces and reactivating the building’s upper levels,” he said.

“Businesses will be increasingly focused on providing workplaces that have functionality, convenience and attractiveness to bring staff back to their offices. Our open office spaces will be flexible, functional and have true character.”