Legal action: law firm moves to historic HQ

MOVING to a glittering new home in the Adelaide CBD next month is about so much more than an impressive, chic corporate look says the chief executive officer of a leading South Australian law firm.

The pending shift by Mellor Olsson as anchor tenant at the former People’s Palace, at 89 Pirie St, will underpin a major revamp in how the firm, which employs 90 staff, operates, says CEO Paul Anderson.

“The message for us is not just about moving to a new building, it’s part of our business transformation,” he said.

Paul anderson ceo of mellor olsson

With Mellor Olsson an early connector to Adelaide’s 10 gigabit high-speed broadband network, cutting edge technology within the building will be fundamental to improving how the firm operates.

“There won’t be hot-desking, but it will be open plan,” Mr Anderson said of the 1800sq m lease over two floors, which includes the historic fifth floor balcony, now designated as an entertaining area, overlooking Pirie St.

The building was purchased last year for $14 million by Melbourne-based Pelligra Group, which bought the former Holden factory complex at Elizabeth in 2017 before rebadging it as Lionsgate industrial park.

“We have met (chairman) Ross Pelligra a few times. Working with the building owner has been really good,” Mr Anderson said.

“They have done the fit-out and it has led to a strong level of understanding.”

The move from Mellor Olsson’s current King William St, city, address is part of a wider revamp by the firm, which also has seven smaller offices throughout SA.

“As a business, we have changed over the past couple of years,” Mr Anderson said.

“The older partners have given way to a younger, dynamic and visionary group, which was coming through.”

Mr Anderson, a former executive director of the SA Office for Recreation and Sport, said the tradition of an in-house lawyer taking charge of the business direction as managing partner was outdated, hence the move to usher in a new operating model.

“The role of managing partner lay in promoting the business. For them, running a business was not a good use of their skill sets,” said Mr Anderson who likens his job to that of a chief financial officer. The people element remains core, however.

“We sent everyone home recently for about five weeks (due to COVID-19); our people were the real focus,” he said.

“Our focus has been to retain as much of our staff as we can. No one knows what the first quarter of 2021 is going to be like.”

There is an underlying synchronicity to the move to Pirie House Mr Anderson said. Pirie House was once home to the Salvation Army – when it was dubbed the People’s Palace for offering temporary accommodation, and the German Club, and dates back to the 1870s - as does Mellor Olsson.

Mellor Olsson has a taken an eight-year lease with a right of renewal floors 5 and 6, which include meeting rooms, breakout areas and a boardroom to fit 100 people (standing).

JLL leasing executive James Parkyn, who brokered the deal, said the leasing of the building was progressing well.

“We have commitment from a further three tenants, who are currently in documentation stage,” he said.

“In addition, we are currently in negotiations with multiple tenants, including both whole-floor and part-floor tenants for about 3000sq m of office space.

“Pelligra’s ability to offer turnkey fit-out solutions is proving to be very attractive for tenants, with many businesses being capital-sensitive in the current economic climate.”

JLL is also in negotiations with an experienced operator for the 555sq m rooftop restaurant/bar as well as a cafe operator for the ground floor.

The move to Pirie St is timely in another sense, with several restaurants and cafes opening and work due to begin on a Hyatt hotel next year.

Several other developments are also flagged for the area.

“It’s similar to the transformation and reactivation of Leigh St with the small restaurants,” Mr Anderson said.

Legal action: law firm moves to historic HQ by Richard Evans originally seen in The Advertister, 23 June 2020.

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