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Melbourne city offices effectively sitting empty until lockdown lifts

17 September 2021

Melbourne’s city office towers are basically sitting empty as the state capital rides out the current coronavirus lockdown.

The extended lockdown has seen the office occupancy rate drop to a record-low 7 per cent according to Property Council of Australia figures.

How full our city offices are is a crucial driver of business for all the surrounding providers of goods and services relying on that office patronage.

“All the gains made earlier this year to reactivate the city have now been lost as workers have again been forced to desert the CBD in droves due to lockdown, and the city again resembles a ghost town,” the PCA’s Victorian executive director Danni Hunter told Sydney Morning Herald.

Both Melbourne and Sydney face big hurdles trying to get the action going again in their CBDs when the current lockdowns end and are desperate to make it happen before businesses hit the wall.

Richard Fennell is from global property firm JLL and spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald and said companies are still issuing briefs, renewing leases or signing new ones despite the severe slump in occupancy.

“There is activity out there. That’s a function of the knowledge that we’re going to get vaccinated,” he said.

The Property Council CEO Ken Morrison said cities that had successfully escaped their lockdowns, like Brisbane, had managed to get their office vacancy rate back up to around 60-65 per cent.

“We know that lockdowns are having a big impact on our CBDs, but it is encouraging to see that once lockdowns are lifted workers are returning at faster rates than we recorded in 2020,” he said.

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