Along with Melbourne and Sydney, Brisbane is one of Australia’s fastest growing cities. How is this changing the way developers think about future commercial projects?
In the next five years, Brisbane will be dramatically transformed by a number of city-shaping projects that are either already underway or close to starting. The new runway at Brisbane airport will double its capacity and make it the most efficient in the country, while Cross River Rail will link South East Queensland and unlock multiple development opportunities above and around the new stations. Looking ahead, the potential for South East Queensland to host the 2032 Olympic games will present a range of significant development opportunities
From a development point of view, I have felt sentiment in the market beginning to shift towards cautious optimism. Projects such as these have the potential to unlock a critical mass of demand that will boost growth in the region and, critically from a commercial architecture perspective, start to deliver on the promise of Brisbane as a New World City by attracting large corporate local and international tenants. This would manifest in an uptick of commercial development in the CBD and the city fringe where numerous mooted developments are seeking tenant pre-commitments. Interestingly, the premium grade office market could be under the most pressure in the short term as its current vacancy rate is around 3 per cent with minimal new supply expected and the constrained CBD grid offering few development opportunities that can yield floorplates over the key 1500 m2 threshold.
Can you describe a current project you’re working on that gives a glimpse of what’s ahead for Brisbane?
In the short term, refurbishment and repositioning of existing stock will be an ongoing avenue of work for us. Brisbane has an extensive collection of early 1970s B-grade commercial office towers featuring 1000–1200 m2 floorplates, central cores and heavy precast facades. Whereas in Sydney, buildings like these are being torn down to make way for new development, the Brisbane market isn’t yet at the point where that approach is feasible. Asset owners in this market segment are instead marketing upgraded and repositioned buildings featuring new foyers, ground level retail, end-of-trip facilities and “third space” offerings. One such project, for which we are currently completing schematic design, will be the largest of its kind in Brisbane. Incorporating 3 commercial office buildings occupying an entire city block, it will feature a dramatic five storey glass atrium, extensive new foyers over 3 levels and new glazing to 3 street elevations.
At the other end of the scale, we are also working on a new 40 storey commercial office tower within QIC’s Triplets development that will leverage the new Cross River Rail station at Albert Street to deliver 35,000m2 of A-Grade NLA in the central CBD.
In parallel, we are working with institutional investors and developers to assess and unlock new development opportunities in Brisbane such as those associated with the Cross River Rail development precincts. These relationships and the insights they bring will ensure we are well placed to contribute to the next wave of growth in South East Queensland.
Stephen Pratt has 15 years of experience in commercial, mixed-use and residential developments. He is interested in the design of tall buildings and sophisticated facade systems. His experience encompasses successful design excellence competitions, team leadership, design development and management of complex client and stakeholder engagement through project delivery.