Fyshwick Canberra Times Office Could Bring In $20M
Beyond employee efficiency and comfort, a good reason to bring in good office fitouts in Canberra or anywhere else is to give the property good resale value. That just might be the case for the Fyshwick office of The Canberra Times, as the new publication’s owner, Antony Catalano, is reviewing the list of assets.
The former Domain CEO, with backing from Alex Waislitz’s Thorney Investments, acquired more than 160 of Nine Entertainment Co’s regional titles earlier in May for a $115 million transaction, which, of course, included The Canberra Times.
The deal was bundled with a massive real estate portfolio, which included The Canberra Times’ headquarters, a high-value property thanks to being extensively, and expensively renovated with new office fitouts in Canberra by the media kingpin, Kerry Stokes, before ownership was transferred to Fairfax later down the road.
Sources close to the deal report that the real estate assets account for more than 25 printing plants and other buildings, with the Fyshwick office located on the corner of Pirie and Newcastle Streets estimated to be worth around $20 million.
Mr. Catalano, however, has stated that the sale of the Fyshwick offices is only an option at this point in time.
The 2 hectare-plus site in Southern Canberra is legally registered as an industrial mixed use complex, meaning it can only be used for commercial uses, but its current lease restricts it to manufacturing, printing, and publishing publications.
People close to the publishing business have decried the lease arrangement as prohibitive, but the ACT Government, via a spokeswoman, say that anyone who wishes to use the site for non-commercial purposes can submit to them a development application.
This particular detail is what could make or break a deal, as sources who have worked closely with the site say that the offices are currently underused, compared to the 500 staff working in its halls during its heyday. The gentrification that Fyshwick has gone through in the past couple of years also increases the likelihood of big profits should the site be flipped.
The Canberra Times has been headquartered in Fyshwick ever since 1964, following Arthur Shakespeare selling the property to John Fairfax, which resulted in the printing facilities being relocated there. Since then, the company has switched hands repeatedly, having been owned by Kerry Packer’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited, then Kerry Stokes, Seven Group Chair, where it was renovated with plush furnishings and interiors.
Then, in 1998, the Rural Press acquired the publication, before the regional published and metropolitan newspaper merged in 2007, resulting in The Canberra Times becoming a Fairfax paper once more.