The Queensland Greens are pushing for Brisbane City Council and the state government to jointly purchase the former ABC Toowong site and convert it into a park after the major site was listed for sale this week.
The 15,000-square-metre site on the banks of the Brisbane River has already been eyed by the council as a potential landing space for a proposed West End-Toowong green bridge.
Property developer Sunland put the Toowong site up for sale through Colliers International, after years of planning to put a major development on the site.
A “champagne flute” plan for three apartment towers designed by Dame Zaha Hadid was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2018, but Sunland planned to lodge a new development application as of last year.
Sunland purchased the 1.5-hectare site at 600 Coronation Drive after the ABC abandoned its headquarters in December 2006 after a breast cancer cluster among female staff.
In The Medical Journal of Australia, a specialist wrote 10 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among 550 women employed at the Toowong site from 1994 to 2006. “These cases represented a more than six-fold increase in risk compared with the female population of Queensland.”
Colliers International’s Adam Rubie said he expected strong demand for the site.
“In Toowong, opportunities of this significant scale, just 3.5 kilometres from the CBD, are simply not available in absolute riverfront locations,” he said
“Demand for premium, owner-occupier product continues unabated in Brisbane and we have witnessed strong demand and increasing price points over the last 24 months.”
Greens councillor Jonathan Sri posted on social media calling for the council to purchase the entire site, while Maiwar Greens MP Michael Berkman said the site should never have been privatised.
“… This could well be our last chance to reclaim it as green space for the people of Brisbane,” Mr Berkman said.
“This is a golden opportunity. The developer is clearly trying to offload this land during the COVID-19 downturn, so the government could get it for a good price now.
“Right now this land is sitting vacant and derelict while locals cry out for more public green space to offset growth, with the Toowong-West End green bridge proposed to land here and a major 25-story development planned for the former Woolworths site up the road.”
On Tuesday, lord mayor Adrian Schrinner said the council would like to purchase some of the site for the planned West End-Toowong bridge.
“That site is one of the options for a landing point for a green bridge between West End and Toowong. If that is the preferred alignment, and obviously we’ve got to some investigation and community consultation, then part of that site will likely be acquired,” he said.
“Back in 2009 when the ABC moved out and the federal government was looking at selling the land, we advocated very strongly at that time for it to be handed over to council and turned into a public park.”
The Rudd government sold the site, with Cr Schrinner saying the value of the site was “now beyond the reach of ratepayers’ affordability” to purchase the entire 1.5 hectares.
“But if we need part of the site to build a bridge, then that’s something we will be looking at,” Cr Schrinner.
Asked if the council would seek to purchase or resume the land, he said the first option would be to discuss it with the owner before resumption became necessary.
The expressions of interest campaign for the site ends on September 30.
This article is republished from www.brisbanetimes.com.au under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Cromwell Lands Former Flight Centre HQ
Brisbane-based fund manager Cromwell will add the former Flight Centre headquarters at 545 Queen Street in Brisbane to its managed portfolio.
Settlement is imminent for the $117.5 million acquisition being sold by Axis Capital, which bought it in 2017 for $70 million, in a deal that requires Foreign Investment Review Board approval.
The 13,300sq m, A-grade office building is located on a 2735sq m parcel of land at the entrance to the Brisbane CBD’s ‘Golden Triangle’ and has undergone an extensive refurbishment programme.
Hamish Wehl, Cromwell’s head of retail funds management, said the property fit its target profile with 88 per cent of income derived from the federal government, as well as listed or multinational tenant-customers
“The current interest rate environment has made things challenging for investors searching for opportunities that meet their income needs.
“Cromwell is actively seeking additional assets that will help DPF meet its objectives and benefit unitholders even further,” Wehl said.
DPF, which started in 2013, owns seven office and retail assets—in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and ACT—outright and has exposure to a further three with a total value of just over $1 billion.
Wehl said the fund had been strongly supported by local investors who are paid a monthly dividend averaging 5.8 per cent a year.
The transaction was negotiated by CBRE’s Peter Chapple, Bruce Baker, Flint Davidson and Stuart McCann.
“We have seen a strong increase in buyer demand for high quality, multi-let Brisbane office towers, with long-term investors backing that there will be a flight to quality as tenants seek to upgrade to prime grade CBD and metropolitan office assets,” Baker said.
Brisbane’s renowned Golden Triangle has been subject to a number of high-profile transactions in recent years.
The tower, at 410 Queen Street, sold for $53.5 million to local development and investment group PGA Properties early last year.
Dexus and Canada’s CPP Investment Board also recently sold Brisbane’s 10 Eagle Street office tower for $285 million to Brisbane-based investment manager Marquette Properties.
Article Source: www.theurbandeveloper.com
Speculators back in the game to push up property prices
Investors in residential property have come out of hibernation and were the driving force behind the record 5.5 per cent increase in housing finance in March.
Having kept a low profile during the pandemic, investors and speculators are now returning to the market with gusto. And that suggests only one thing – home prices will continue to be pushed higher.
The colloquial definition of what turns a housing boom to a housing bubble is the increasing participation of investors. Judging by the latest numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) investors could soon replace first home buyers as key drivers of the red-hot property market.
The 12.7 per cent increase in financing to investors dwarfed the (already strong) 5.2 per cent increase in finance to owner occupiers. And the value of those loan commitments to investors is up 54 per cent on March last year.
And the phoenix-like rise in housing investors has coincided with early signs of a peak in demand for finance by first home buyers whose participation in the housing market appears to be running out of steam. In March first home buyer finance fell by 3.1 per cent (seasonally adjusted), according to the ABS.
The levelling out of first home buyer demand was only ever a matter of time as this group would ultimately come up against the barrier of affordability.
Government assistance and low interest rates spurred demand from first home buyers last year but as prices have moved up the window of opportunity has narrowed. Meanwhile, some of the robust demand from those making their first move into property is thought to have been pulled forward.
Investors deserted the residential property market in response to COVID as rents and returns fell as did values in the early stages of the pandemic. The apartments segment was hit particularly hard as immigration disappeared.
While rents remain at historically low levels, there are clear signs that rental increases are starting to come through – particularly in the outer suburbs of capital cities, the smaller capitals and in regional areas. In March rents rose by 0.6 per cent in Sydney and by 0.2 per cent in Melbourne according to CoreLogic
But the broader enticement for investors is capital gains on offer in the housing market, which is now in full swing. Prices nationally rose by 1.8 per cent in April and by 2.8 per cent in March and careered ahead 6.8 per cent over the past three months.
For big banks lenders the return of the residential property investor could provide them a new source of demand growth in the event the first home owner market continues to run out of puff.
Despite historically low interest rates, the banks say they are not seeing any deterioration in the quality of their loan books. This is despite intense competition among bank and non-bank lenders to capitalise on the demand for housing finance driven by low rates.
Westpac’s accounts for the six months to March, which were released this week ,showed that only 2 per cent of customers were behind on repayments – a level that has remained the same for a year.
For the most part the banks are arguing that there is no need to apply any macroprudential brakes to the housing market.
But history tells us the rise in investor participation also sets off alarm bells within the regulatory agencies, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Reserve Bank.
Both have been disinclined so far to wade into the rapidly heating property market and introduce measures that will hamper first home owners. But regulators have plenty of form in targeting the more speculative investor cohort with macroprudential tools. And the banks will need to avoid the riskier lending that has traditionally been associated with financing investors.
’The resurgence in investor financing and the continuing surge in owner occupiers who are trading up points to further near term strength in home prices,” according to AMP chief economist Shane Oliver.
“It also points to a further acceleration in housing debt, a further rise in the share of interest only loans and increasing lending at high loan to valuation ratios. All of which is increasing pressure on the RBA and APRA to move to tighten lending standards in order to head off increasing risks of financial instability – which we expect to occur sometime in the next six months.”
Article Source: www.brisbanetimes.com.au
Cromwell buys in Brisbane and on the hunt for more properties
Cromwell Property Group has confirmed it is buying the former Flight Centre headquarters at 545 Queen St, Brisbane, for $117.5 million.
Hamish Wehl, Cromwell’s head of retail funds management, said the refurbished office building in the Brisbane CBD’s so-called “Golden Triangle” was purchased for its Direct Property Fund (DPF), a retail investment vehicle.
“We are actively looking for further acquisition opportunities,” he said.
“The fund remains open, we’re seeing attractive investment inflows and it’s all about acquiring the right property that suits the return profile of the investors.”
He said DPF has been strongly supported by “mum and dad investors” who are paid a monthly dividend averaging 5.8 per cent a year.
DPF, which started in 2013, owns seven assets outright and has exposure to a further three with a total value of just over $1 billion . All but one – a Bunnings in South Australia – is an office building.
Mr Wehl said office will remain a focus for DPF though there is scope to invest in other sectors, depending on returns.
“We are cautiously optimistic in the current environment and think the office sector as a whole will always be relevant for white collar employment,” he said.
“It fosters innovation, creates and maintains workplace culture.”
He added: “There’s still a bit to play out from last year’s fallout [and] if we see quality property that is attractively priced within the retail and industrial sectors, the fund has the ability within its investment mandate to acquire those assets.”
Cromwell bought the 13,000sq m building – now 100 per cent leased with average weighted expiry of 4.1 years – from Axis Capital, which paid $70 million in 2017 shortly after Flight Centre moved to other premises and left it mostly empty.
Axis Capital refurbished and repositioned the building, leasing it up before selling to Cromwell on a yield of 5.9 per cent.
The sale required Foreign Investment Review Board approval due to the large stake activist investor, ARA Asset Management, based in Singapore, has in Cromwell.
The transaction was negotiated by CBRE’s Peter Chapple, Bruce Baker, Flint Davidson and Stuart McCann.
Brisbane CBD has sprung back to life after the quiet 2020, with at least four other major properties still on the market. Total transaction value this year is expected to exceed $1 billion over the next two months.
The catalyst for the listings surge has been strong post-COVID-19 prices paid for office towers at 10 Eagle Street, which fetched $285 million, and 310 Ann Street, sold to Ashe Morgan for $210 million.
Article Source: www.afr.com
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