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Arden Group Lodges Plans for East Brisbane Tower

Arden Group Lodges Plans for East Brisbane Tower (1)

Hong Kong-backed Arden Group, known for its residential developments in Brisbane and Sydney, has submitted a proposal for a 10-storey apartment building in Brisbane’s fringe.

The developer is aiming to capitalise on the recovering Brisbane apartment market, opting for high-end product in inner-city locations, according to plans lodged with Brisbane City Council.

The development application is proposed for a 1,000sq m site situated on the corner of Park Avenue and Thorn Street in the inner-city suburb of East Brisbane.

Located opposite the heritage-listed Mowbray Park, the project comprises 26 dwellings and features a 740sq m rooftop terrace with pool, as well as 57 car parking spaces over three levels of basement.

Arden Group Lodges Plans for East Brisbane Tower (2)

The application follows the developer’s recent plans for a 500-apartment project on a vacant site on the corner of Vulture and Main Streets in Woolloongabba, directly opposite the proposed Cross River Rail Station.

Arden were reported to be offering agent incentives of up to 13 per cent for the sale of off-the-plan apartments in its 27-storey Panorama development in Bowen Hills, more than three times the industry average.

Arden Group Lodges Plans for East Brisbane Tower (3)

The city’s apartment market, which led the country in and out of the cycle, is now showing signs of renewed optimism after a prolonged period of limited supply.

Corelogic and Moody’s 2019 third quarter housing forecast report has also predicted an uptick across the east coast capital city residential markets next year, with apartment prices expected to perform better than house prices in Brisbane.

Apartment values across the greater Brisbane area are expected to jump by 5.6 per cent in 2020 with a further 5.8 per cent rise in 2021.




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Rio’s New Digs Hit High Point

Rio’s New Digs Hit High Point

Hutchinson Builders has topped out the “first-of-its-kind” full merging of two separate commercial buildings in Brisbane’s $700 million Midtown Centre.

Mining giant Rio Tinto signed a 10-year lease deal in 2019 on the 27-storey, Fender Katsalidis-designed tower, developed by AM Brisbane CBD Investment, a joint venture between wealth manager Ashe Morgan and developer David Mann’s DMann Corporation.

The project involves the $175 million connection and refurbishment of the former Health and Forestry Buildings located at 155 Charlotte Street and 150 Mary Street—acquired in 2017 for $66 million—into a cross-block hub comprising a commercial tower, with a public laneway connecting both streets.

Rather than using the conventional method of joining the existing 20-storey buildings by a skybridge, the buildings have been merged from top to bottom using a base podium and exterior, to provide large campus-style 2,500sq m floor plates.

The infill is locked in by a new level 20 slab supporting an additional six levels above, to form the single 26-storey tower currently being constructed by Hutchinson Builders—who, like other “essential services” have continued work while adapting to Covid-19 social distancing measures.

Fender Katsalidis director Mark Curzon said the infill completion is a huge accomplishment in terms of commercial design outcomes, adaptive reuse and sustainability in Australia.

“Through good design, we have given new life to the buildings in a somewhat unconventional but highly innovative and technically considered manner.

“We’re leading the way for more environmentally-friendly adaptive reuse while meeting commercial objectives in creating large floorplates that would otherwise be unattainable in this CBD location,” Curzon said.

Compared with a demolish and rebuild scenario, Midtown Centre’s infill achieves a claimed 231 per cent cumulative impact reduction across all environmental indicators, including a 37 per cent carbon dioxide reduction compared to a new build.

Rio’s New Digs Hit High Point (2)

Curzon said that although the successful merging of the structures in the Midtown development rests partly on the fact that the two buildings’ original designs mirror each other, the technique was transferable.

“The infill has afforded significant environmental savings, adding to the viability of this technique and its potential to be implemented across other buildings that sit side-by-side.”

Fender Katsalidis principal James Mills said the project sets a new standard for the repurposing of buildings.

“Despite nothing of this scale or nature taking place in Australia previously, we have found a way to add value to the site through a cutting-edge architectural process that is exemplar for Brisbane and beyond.

“Our work at Midtown Centre is focused on bringing the buildings in line with today’s needs, increasing net lettable area and producing environmental sustainability through the design of commercial assets,” Mills said.

Rio’s New Digs Hit High Point (3)

Even before coronavirus created the new normal of social distancing, which in turn is set to have transformative impact on office design—Ashe Morgan chairman Michael Moss predicted the “customised office solution” prescribed for Rio Tinto would “create a benchmark for workplaces of the future”.

The centre features a level 20 “sky garden”, landscaped garden terrace atop the podium and “green seam” encasing the tower along with landscaped areas across the development totalling in excess of 3,000sq m.

With the Midtown centre slated for completion in mid-2020, the next phase of construction involves the addition of six levels to create a single tower from the new level 20 slab.




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Landlords hit by rising vacancies, falling prices

Landlords hit by rising vacancies, falling prices

Property prices don’t necessarily always fall during recessions but this time you would have to think that prices will tumble significantly, given the speed and depth of the COVID-19 economic shock.

Simon Pressley, managing director of Propertyology, says the problems in the property markets will be temporary.

Even those sober economists at the big banks are forecasting price falls of up to 32 per cent over the next couple of years – though the banks’ “base” cases, or most likely scenarios, are for price declines in the order of 10 per cent.

A lot of homeowners are ahead on their mortgage repayments and have a nice buffer in case they have to drop their payments to the required minimum, and history shows most people can hold on without becoming forced sellers.

That’s also likely to be the case this time, given the level of government support through JobKeeper and JobSeeker and lenders’ granting of repayment deferrals to their home loan customers affected by the financial fallout of the pandemic.

However, the situation is trickier for property investor landlords.

Rental vacancy rates in Sydney’s CBD hit more than 13.8 per cent during April – the highest ever recorded by property researcher SQM Research.

Vacancies at Melbourne’s Southbank are similarly at 13 per cent, and in the CBD it is 7.6 per cent.

So far, the vacancy rates in the suburbs of our two largest cities have risen only slightly, with the elevated rates contained to inner-city areas.

Still, the relatively low suburban vacancy rates may be understating the true weakness in rental market, given many tenants have negotiated rent discounts or deferrals with their landlords.

Robert Mellor, executive chairman of economic and property forecaster BIS Oxford Economics, describes the high vacancy rates of inner-city areas as “alarming”.

It is the number of people out of work, fewer international students and loss of immigration that’s driving the surge, particularly in areas with many higher-density developments.

Overseas travel bans have also led to demand for short-term accommodation through sites such as Airbnb drying up, leading property owners to list their housing for long-term leasing. That’s pushing vacancy rates in holiday hotspots higher, though that will change once interstate travel resumes.

Simon Pressley, managing director and head of market research at buyer’s agency Propertyology, says many landlords with investment properties in inner-city areas are finding it tough.

And those who bought investment properties recently risk being in negative equity if prices fall significantly, where they owe more on the property than what it is now worth, he says.

However, Pressley cautions against punching out doom and gloom predictions on a negative trend.

“I’m in the minority, but I’m not seeing double-digit price falls,” he says.

“It is a dreadful thing for some landlords but we are talking about specific pockets. It is not going to be like this forever.”

The coronavirus has at least ensured that interest rates and, therefore, borrowing costs, will stay low for years to come.

Time will tell, but the almost 2 million Australians with at least one investment property will be hoping Pressley’s optimism proves correct.




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Barber Property Group Lodges Plans for Medical Facility, Hotel

Barber Property Group Lodges Plans for Medical Facility, Hotel (1)

Barber Property Group has lodged plans for a “sub-tropical” 15 storey private medical facility and hotel in Spring Hill.

It was the second medical facility application lodged in the Brisbane CBD fringe suburb after Silverstone Developments revealed plans for a nine-storey commercial and medical building last week.

Barber Propery’s plans for 375 Wickham Terrace would see an existing mid-rise office building demolished to build a long narrow tower.

It includes 5,307sq m of health care floorspace, 186sq m of retail, a hotel with 46 rooms, conference rooms, a business lounge and a rooftop communal area.

The 1,370sq m site opposite Roma Street Parklands was in the midst of a community and residential precinct including multiple medical facilities as well as St Joseph’s College, Brisbane Central State School and Brisbane Grammar School.

Barber Property Group Lodges Plans for Medical Facility, Hotel (3)

The decision to lodge the plans was spurred on by Covid-19 according to the development application by Barber Property Group under the guise of St Lucia Enterprises.

“The current public health situation has highlighted the need for health care services in south-east Queensland, both now and into the future,” according to the application.

“The development will support the a robust and resilient health care system to address ongoing health and accommodation outcomes in support of standard health requirements together with heightened health requirements [as currently observed].”

The new plans were consistent with an existing approval from 2015 with the amalgamation of lots, realignment of the road behind the site and construction of a new road.

Barber Property Group Lodges Plans for Medical Facility, Hotel (2)

The Arkhefield design was described as contemporary and had to be mindful of the historically-significant Theosophical Society Building next door; an 1860s duplex which was converted into medical suites by notable architect Robin Dods in 1912.

“The new podium references the composition and elements of the vernacular verandah forming part of the heritage building, through inclusions within podium facade such as columns, batten screening and trellis,” according to the application to Brisbane City Council.

The design had a focus on natural light and ventilation with large windows and a breezeway on the tower levels beside the lift.

Barber Property Group have completed over $150 million worth of projects in the past 30 years in south-east Queensland such as the Jephson Hotel in Toowong and Quest on Story Bridge.

The Brisbane-based real estate investment and development company are currently working three sites in St Lucia including Vistas apartments, Gailey Road student accommodation and Eton Apartments.




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