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Brisbane residents who stayed put after 2011 flood claw back house values

Brisbane residents

Ten years after the devastating Brisbane flood in which thousands of residents lost their homes and possessions, house prices are back up, but signs of the catastrophe remain.

It was a disaster on an unprecedented scale — 36 people died and about 30,000 Queensland homes and businesses suffered some form of inundation in the floods in south-east Queensland of 2010-11.

In Brisbane, some of the city’s most desirable suburbs were swamped.

Head of research at CoreLogic Tim Lawless said Brisbane house prices were already on a downward trajectory because of rising interest rates, and values in flood-hit areas slumped even further in the wake of the disaster.

“When we look at the Brisbane housing market, say two years after the flood, the worst-affected flooded markets had clearly seen a much larger decline in values than what Brisbane did overall,” he said.

“There are so many different micro dynamics in a market but, broadly, we saw two years after the event Brisbane housing values were down about 5 per cent, whereas in the hardest-hit flooded markets we saw values fall more like about 10 to 12 per cent.

“Some markets were a little bit worse than that, some a little bit better than that, but it’s clear that the flooded markets were down generally more than double what the Brisbane average had seen.”

But the market has since recovered.

“In fact, it didn’t even take 10 years; about five years after the event we’d seen all of the worst-hit markets were back to new record highs,” Lawless said.

“By the end of this 10-year anniversary, we’ve seen Brisbane housing values have risen by nearly 23 per cent, but if we look back across the worst-hit flooded markets, they’ve generally risen by about 14 to 16 per cent.”

Riverside locations that were a curse during the disaster have fared well in terms of house values.

“A lot of these areas that did flood were in very desirable locations — close to the river, close to the water … I think the lure of those desirable suburbs close to the river and close to the city centre has been enough to overcome any sort of issues related to the potential for flooding,” Lawless said.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said more than 95 per cent of flooded properties were built before the 1970s.

“Less than 5 per cent were newly developed properties … and what that shows is that the modern planning controls are working to reduce people’s flood risk,” Schrinner said.

“The majority of the flood risk is in areas that were developed long before the modern age.”

He said residents now had easy access to flood modelling data and thousands of people had taken advantage of post-flood building height relaxations.

“We have implemented a range of changes which help people in those situations,” he said.

“One of them is the ability for people to raise their houses in areas that flood and so we’ve lifted the height limit from 8.5 metres to 9.5 metres to allow people to get that extra bit of height to help get them out of the flood zone.”

But independent councillor for Tennyson Ward Nicole Johnston said more should be done to reduce the flood risk for residents.

“It’s a floodplain so we can’t ever be flood-proof, but there are things that we can do and there is definitely more Brisbane City Council and the State Government can do to make our city and our community safer,” she said.

“There is still a long way to go on achieving flood-mitigation measures that can help our community in the long term.”

Johnston said more backflow valves were needed to help stop water backing up out of the river through drains and flooding streets.

“The big one is backflow valves, so these were recommended following the floods out of council’s independent engineering review,” she said.

“Unfortunately council did the first 15 and then stopped, so there are still 40-odd backflow valves that need to be done around the city, many of them in the area that I represent.

“Unfortunately council is now treating them like other long-term drainage priorities and isn’t investing enough money into making sure that those mitigation measures are in place.”

Schrinner said the devices were not “a silver bullet”.

“They only are effective if you’ve got river flooding and no flooding in creeks … or no rain in the local catchment,” he said.

“If you’ve got water coming down the pipes you don’t want to put a blockage in those pipes, so what these are about is to stop water coming up the pipes.

“There’s only a small percentage of situations where these devices work — in other situations they won’t have any impact at all.

“We’ve prioritised the most critical locations and they have been done and we’re continuing to look for other opportunities to improve the drainage as well.”

For Barry Sommerlad, who lives at Tennyson on Brisbane’s south-west, the events of January 2011 were devastating.

His house sits on Oxley Creek which broke its banks and flooded homes.

“When it was obvious on that Wednesday morning that it was really, really getting serious, it was coming up, we decided we just had to get out and by that time we’d worked throughout the night getting most of our furniture upstairs,” he said.

He said the water went one metre above his home’s floorboards, wrecking walls and a new kitchen, and filling the backyard with mud.

Sommerlad said he would never forget how the local community rallied to support each other.

“The positives were that everybody pitched in and worked together and everybody understood how everybody else felt, so there was great solidarity coming out of that,” he said.


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Honeycombes Secures Funds for Ferny Grove Village


Queensland developer Honeycombes Property Group has unveiled plans for a $140 million mixed-use development at Ferny Grove train station, in Brisbane’s north-western suburbs.

Honeycombes, in partnership with Melbourne-based real estate financier MaxCap, will deliver Ferny Grove Central, a 12,000sq m neighbourhood village and an 82 apartment residential building, dubbed The Fernery.

Honeycombes, led by Peter and Vanessa Honeycombe, secured the development rights to the site in 2017 following a competitive tender process run by the Queensland government.

“We have already received a high amount of unprecedented interest from the local market, highlighting the level of demand for both residential apartments and retail opportunities,” Honeycombes managing director Peter Honeycombe said.

The joint venture partners are expecting to announce a number of major tenants in coming months with a mix of high-profile national retailers including supermarkets, fitness centres, child-care and cinema providers expected to be secured on long-term leases.

Honeycombes is also in the final stages of securing a head contractor for the project with construction set to commence shortly.


▲ This project is being built on the 2.6-hectare car park site directly adjoining the rail and bus interchange at Ferny Grove station.

“We have built a very strong relationship with the Queensland state government during the formation of the development and will continue to be committed to the delivery of the transit oriented development for the residence of Ferny Grove,” Honeycombes said.

“Without the government’s contribution of $9 million and the federal government’s $11 million in funding contributions for additional park ‘n’ ride spaces planned for the project could not have been achieved.”

The development adds to Honeycombes development portfolio which totals over $2 billion in delivered projects over the last 25 years.

Non-bank lender MaxCap has previously partnered with Honeycombes, providing debt funding to its $252 million Coorparoo Square development in Brisbane in 2015.

Last year, MaxCap partnered with Melbourne developer Troon Group on several commercial projects including the development of a new 3000sq m BMW car dealership in Berwick for Jowett Motor Group in the city’s south-east and an office redevelopment in Mont Albert.

It has also provided the construction facility for JD Group’s $250 million residential development in the city’s inner-eastern suburb of Hawthorn.

Funding has also been agreed for a $120 million 20-storey mixed-use residential building in South Melbourne being developed by Milbex Group.


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Brisbane’s New Green Bridges a Step Closer

Work on two of the planned five “green bridges” to be built in Brisbane has begun with the lodging of plans for the projects.

The Brisbane City Council says construction will begin this year after the commencement of tendering for the proposed Kangaroo Point and Breakfast Creek bridges.

Construction of the $190-million Kangaroo Point green bridge, due for completion by the end of 2023, is set to begin first, subject to community feedback and approvals.

Development plans lodged this month show the new 6.8m-wide bridge will link the inner-city suburb of Kangaroo Point with Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens.

The project is part of the council’s $550-million commitment to build five “green bridges” across the city during the next 10 years.

Green bridges accommodate pedestrian and cycle traffic, and are designed to reduce the number of motor vehicles using roads.

Green Bridges

▲ The Kangaroo Point pedestrian and cycling bridge will link the city’s botanic gardens with Kangaroo Point’s Scott Street.

The council’s plan include bridges at Breakfast Creek, Toowong to West End, St Lucia to West End, and the now-scrapped Bellbowrie-Wacol green bridge.

The Bellbowrie bridge project was cancelled after community consultation with the Pullenvale and Jamboree Wards mid-last year.

While the city is yet to announce a new location for the scrapped bridge, the council’s proposed bridge options to West End have stirred local community concern due to the potential resumption of private homes.

The preferred alignments and locations for two of the bridges, Toowong to West End and St Lucia to West End, are currently open to public comment.

The community consultation period ends on March 31.


Green Bridges

▲ The Breakfast Creek green bridge will link with Lores Bonney Riverwalk.

The Breakfast Creek green bridge will connect Brisbane’s northern suburbs with the CBD.

The Kangaroo green bridge concept, developed by Arup, Cox Architecture and the council, will include separate cycling and pedestrian lanes.

It will stretch from the corner of Alice and Edward streets in the city to Scott Street at Kangaroo Point.

Green Bridges

▲ The Kangaroo Point pedestrian and cycle bridge will link the eastern suburbs and the city centre.

Such a bridge was proposed in the 1860s and a design developed by 1890, but never built.

The council says the Kangaroo Point bridge is expected to accommodate 5400 daily trips and take 83,690 cars off the road annually.


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Destination Consortium Amends Queen’s Wharf Plans

The final design for Brisbane’s Queen’s Wharf development has taken another turn with amended plans put forward calling for changes in the mega project’s residential precinct.

The $3.6-billion development—which has taken a significant footprint of the CBD—is well under way, with more than 5000 tonnes of steel, 41,000 cubic metres of concrete and 400,000 cubic metres of fill delivered so far.

The northern riverfront development will feature a new casino, the overhaul of heritage buildings, five new hotels with more than 1000 guest rooms, around 50 restaurants and a major retail precinct.

Proposed amendments to the original application have now been put forward by Destination Brisbane Consortium—which includes the Star group, developers Far East Consortium and Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook.

The alterations will affect the project’s residential quarter and predominantly involve changing the land usage, mix and designs of towers five and six.

Tower one is a 43-storey, 667 apartment residential project, while towers two and three—located below the Arc Skydeck—will include the development’s casino and hotels.

Tower four will be the project’s tallest residential tower at 200m while the 49-storey tower five and 45-storey tower six—which were originally intended to be used hotel and residential operations—will now be subject to changes.

Queen’s Wharf

▲ Amended designs have called for a shorter format to a now commercial building six, set to sit alongside tower five which is mixed-use with commercial and retail space.

The new round of changes, submitted to Economic Development Queensland, now call for tower five and six—which were previously residential in nature—to be remixed to include commercial floor space.

Tower five is now proposed to be mixed-use and could contain commercial or retail space on the lower levels with residential in the mid and high-rise sections of the building.

Tower six opposite Parliament House, which has been reduced in size, will now become a commercial-only building.

The Cottee Parker-designed building will sit next to Cbus Property’s 1 William Street, a 76,000sq m commercial tower currently occupied by the Queensland government, which was completed in 2016.

The push to diversify the hotel and casino development by adding new A-grade commercial elements comes as landlords scramble to reposition their CBD buildings to bring workers back to the city.

The Queensland capital’s vacancy rate grew to 13.6 per cent last month from 12.9 per cent in July, with most of the increase coming from reduced tenant demand during the second half of a pandemic-hit year.

Around 44,000sq m of new space is due to come online this year and a further 82,000sq m in 2022, adding to the pressure on a market that in the past six months suffered its lowest net absorption of space since January 2018.

The development has reached the fifth level of the 172-metre concrete structure known as a “diaphragm wall”, currently sitting around 20m above the Riverside Expressway.

Destination Brisbane Consortium project director Simon Crooks said despite ongoing amendments due to the possibility of shifting market conditions, the “integrated resort” was quickly taking shape.

“This time next year towers two and three, the dual tower for The Star Grand hotel, will be topping out at around 100m, meaning Queen’s Wharf they will be sitting prominently alongside and above the Riverside expressway,” he said.

“When complete, the Dorsett and Rosewood tower, which sits behind the Printery Building between George and William streets, will be around 200m and is expected to peak around mid-2022.

“And finally, topping out at 240-metres, Queen’s Wharf Residences is expected to reach full height in about two years, well after the hotel towers top-out.”

Early works for construction of the Neville Bonner pedestrian bridge began in March last year on South Bank and will be complete in time for the integrated resort development opening in late-2022.


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