As you know, the Property Team has been carefully and deliberately working to find a way to ensure we have adequate accommodation for the rest of this century and beyond.
We began this process two years ago. Not because we were in any hurry to move from 161 Sturt Street, but because we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to find the place God wanted us to be.
We examined the idea of demolishing the warehouse and building a new building (with lots of car parking). We looked at the idea of building a new building somewhere else. And we started to look for an existing building that we might buy (and sell 161 Sturt Street).
In recent months it has become clear that the most economical course would be to buy an existing building. The property market is so depressed, buildings are very cheap right now.
We also looked at the idea of finding a new facility that would be closer to the centre of Melbourne. It might surprise you to know that the G.P.O. is not in the centre of Melbourne. Most of our population is spread to the East and the South. This makes the demographic centre of Melbourne (the population centre of gravity) somewhere near Brandon Park Shopping Centre on the corner of Springvale and Ferntree Gully Roads.
Our biggest hurdle in looking for an existing building is that there are very few big enough near the demographic centre of Melbourne.
But there is one.
On Highbury Road, East Burwood, near the intersection of Highbury and Springvale Roads stands a boomerang shaped building of about 7,000 square metres (about 40% bigger than 161 Sturt Street).
It is the Radio Australia building owned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
It is basically a two storey building with another half a floor below. We reckoned we could all fit on the upper two floors with plenty of room to spare (leaving some lettable space). All the windows to the East have views of the Dandenongs. Downstairs is a vast store, a canteen complete with open air barbecues and picnic area, and a large multi-purpose area to which we could see Malcolm Wilton laying a claim. Somewhere in there ought to be room for a child minding centre too.
In style it is a modest but modern building. One of our team commented, "It is the right style for World Vision. Modest but business-like."
There is plenty of car parking. The building could also be easily expanded in case we doubled in staff numbers (as we did in the past decade).
The building is about the same distance from Nunawading and Glen Waverley stations. A bus runs up and down Springvale Road.
There was a snag. The building was not for sale. The ABC wanted to sell all the land around the building (more than 30 acres), but they didn't want to sell the building for two years.
Why two years? Because that is when the "Southbank Project" would be completed and all the Radio Australia staff would move to South Melbourne.
Jennings, who were bidding to develop the Southbank Project, heard that we were on the lookout for a good deal. They offered to stitch together a package deal for the ABC that included World Vision buying the Radio Australia building in two years time. It looked like a good deal to us.
Too good to be true.
Apparently, building prices in the market were too good for us, and not good enough for Jennings or the ABC. The deal fell through.
And as you can read, the ABC have shelved plans for the time being and Radio Australia will stay put.
And so will we.
Although this is a building we did not buy, I thought I would let you all know about it to give you an idea of the sort of facility we think might be suitable for World Vision's national office to take us into the 21st century.
The Property Team would be interested in any reactions you have. Here is a (now) hypothetical question. What if we were moving to Highbury Road, East Burwood?
How would you have felt about that? Feel free to drive past the ABC building and have a look. Do you agree that this is the sort of place we should be looking for?
The Property Team is me, Geoff, Kevin, Max and Vic Upson. Feel free to drop any of us a note.