Upping the game for end-of-trip facilities

 A Melbourne-based property investment company has made its first foray into the Tasmanian market and improving end-of-trip facilities was one of its first actions.

Terraplex bought the well-known 1990 Telstra Centre building on the corner of Collins and Argyle streets in Hobart in November 2019, its first major purchase outside Melbourne.

Director Charlie Raymond said the company bought the building with the plan to immediately improve its end-of-trip facilities as they have found improving the amenity of a building attracts longer term tenants paying higher rents.

“We have done it in other buildings that didn’t have them and ultimately it pays off for us to invest in that,” Mr Raymond said.

“A government department recently put out a request for space and bike parking and end-of-trip facilities were two of the things it was looking for.

“End-of-trip facilities are not common in Hobart but people in our line of business know they are standard now in new buildings and mainland and government tenants are demanding them,” Mr Raymond said.

Lessee representatives Tenant CS is predicting that post COVID-19 competition in the commercial real estate market combined with low interest rates more building owners will be upgrading their end-of-trip facilities.

“When you think of a building’s gym and end-of-trip facilities, you typically think of a basement exercise room, bathroom, shower and bike rack. But this type of offering is now part and parcel. A shower and storage facility is no longer enough to give a building competitive advantage.

“To stay ahead, owners have started listening to their occupant’s needs and studying global office building design trends. The result? The emergence of full-service fitness centres that offer premium exercise equipment, fitness classes, personal lockers, bike storage areas and grooming stations. We’ve even seen dedicated towel services and vending machines that offer bicycle repair parts!“ Mr Raymond said.

Bicycle Network is interested in improved end-of-trip facilities because they are necessary for many people to make the final decision to swap out of a car and onto a bike.

A 2006 research paper from the University of Leed’s Institute for Transport Studies found that no one factor is enough to make people get out of their cars and onto bikes, but the most effective approach is a combination of improved cycling infrastructure, payment to ride to work and comprehensive end-of-trip facilities.

New digs

The Telstra Centre now has completely new showers, lockers and secure bike parking.

“The building had couple of showers and couple of toilets that were old and tired. We’ve tripled the size of the facility, put in lockers, modernised showers and provided hairdryers,” Mr Raymond said.

“No real bike storage existed so we’ve created a larger area for that in the building by taking over a storage area and engaging an architect to design brand new facilities,” Mr Raymond said.

The end result is a dedicated secured bike storage room, in addition to the existing 16 high hanging rails that are squeezed onto the walls around the car park entrance.

The new bike parking includes 24 hoops on the ground with room for 48 bikes so people don’t have to lift bikes to lock them up if the bikes are too heavy or they don’t have the mobility.

There's also room for 18 hanging bikes for people with the strength and light enough bikes. 

With the new parking room, the building now has dedicated space for 82 bikes, which is a big improvement on the 16 hooks previously provided.

To retrofit or not to retrofit

The Liberal Party promised at the 2018 election it would review planning and development laws to require developers to provide bike parking and associated facilities in major cities across the state.

This action was referred to the review of the Walking and Cycling for Active Transport Strategy that was close to completion until COVID-19 redeployed staff to other activities.

Now the election has come and gone, we will be again be pressing the incoming government to make these changes to the planning scheme.

Bicycle Network would also like to see a grant program for businesses to help them build new facilities or improve existing parking. 

Terraplex has decided that fixing existing buildings is the preferred option for Hobart.

“Retrofitting existing buildings is the way to go because constructing new office buildings alone isn’t economic at the moment in Hobart,” Mr Raymond said.

“Mainland investors in commercial real estate are ensuring these facilities are standard in higher end buildings, those ideas will come to Hobart,” Mr Raymond said.