“We redesigned the whole public areas so you feel you are in two different buildings. At night-time, you will feel like you are going into a restaurant and not a workplace.”

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The tower, perched on the corner of Queen Street at the gateway to the city’s legal district, is just coming out of the ground and will include a slew of sustainable features, from the way it is constructed through to its energy-generating “solar skin”. Lucas’ kitchens will be all electric.

The Commonwealth Bank has committed to taking 25 per cent of the building and legal firm Baker McKenzie will move into 3600 square metres over three levels. That leaves 21 levels to fill at a time when office workers are reluctantly returning to their workplaces.

For Cbus boss Adrian Pozzo, the restaurants will help attract tenants to the building while adding more amenity to the midtown precinct.

“We are trying to provide a one-stop shop with amenity and office. We’ve got to get people back into the office. We’re at about three days a week now – four would be good,” Pozzo said.

With so few new office buildings under construction in the CBD, he’s confident those extra floors will start to fill up as the tower emerges. It’s scheduled for completion in late 2026.

For Lucas, there are advantages to being a corporate tenant, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a canny property investor. He has spent $55.4 million on CBD properties in the past six years, some of which house his own dining establishments.

Chris Lucas in his Melbourne restaurant Chin Chin.

Chris Lucas in his Melbourne restaurant Chin Chin.Credit: Arsineh Houspian

Two derelict buildings at 19-29 Bourke Street, formerly the Society restaurant, are under reconstruction and will reopen later this year as Batard.

“For me, it’s a great opportunity to acquire buildings that are a bit undervalued and take on the challenge of brining them back to life. It’s a pretty risky business,” he said.

“I’m no guru property guy. I just love old buildings and love to create restaurants in them.”

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