Excavation work at the site of the Queen’s Wharf resort nears completion, the actual construction phase is slated to begin in late 2019
The winning bidder for the construction of the A$3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf luxury integrated resort in Brisbane will be announced within weeks, news outlet the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Geoff Hogg, Managing Director Queensland for Australian casino operator The Star Entertainment Group, said today that “somewhere in the next four to six weeks” they will announce the successful tender that “will start building the main core and shell of the Queen’s Wharf development.”
The Star is the leading partner in Destination Brisbane Consortium that was selected back in 2016 as the winning bidder for the development and operation of an integrated resort in Brisbane’s Central Business District. The company won the race over its biggest archrival Crown Resorts.
Mr. Hogg went on to explain that the soon-to-be-announced winning tender will be tasked with the “core concrete and […] shell” of the resort. Tenders for internal fit-outs will follow at a later stage. Announcing the winning tender for the primary construction work will mark an important milestone and the shift from excavation toward the start of construction, Mr. Hogg said today.
Excavation work began early in 2017. Mr. Hogg explained today that phase is now almost complete. Workers have so far demolished a number of government-owned buildings to prepare the site for setting the foundations.
Mr. Hogg explained that they expect to reach an important milestone in mid-2019 when all 450,000 cubic meters of soil and rock would be taken out and the hole in the ground would be finished. Foundation work is slated to begin shortly afterwards. Actual construction work is likely to commence by Christmas.
They expect to be ready to begin ground level work by mid-2020. The luxury resort will feature a massive underground car park.
The Star targets 2022 opening of a major part of its property. The launch will include three hotels, one operating under The Star brand, as well as Dorsett-branded and Rosewood-branded hotels, food and beverage facilities, public spaces at the flagship Sky Deck, The Landing, and Waterline, and retail spaces.
The gaming and hospitality giant currently runs Brisbane’s Treasury Casino. That facility will be closed when the main resort is finished and The Star will relocate its license to a larger casino at its the Queen’s Wharf resort. As for its old gaming operation, it will be transformed into a retail center.
New life for heritage Townsville school as hospital given green light
A heritage-listed former Townsville school will be converted into a $55 million private hospital, over objections from another private hospital operator.
Queensland planning and environment court Judge Tracy Fantin this week dismissed an appeal by Mater Health North Queensland against the development, ruling the new hospital was in the public interest.
Judge Fantin delivered her judgment in Cairns after a protracted hearing in November last year, finding the development application had “substantial merit”.
“Planning appeals involving heritage buildings or new hospitals are relatively uncommon. This one involves both,” she said.
The property in question, on Ingham Road in West End, was the former Townsville West State School, a 1930s-era three-storey brick building listed on the state’s heritage register but left unused for a decade.
The state government sold the property in 2014 to private owners, who also purchased property around the building.
Developers Geon Property then lodged the development application to convert the massive building into a 22-bed private hospital with four operating theatres, healthcare services and a pharmacy.
They wanted to create an additional building constructed beside the old school, linked by a pedestrian bridge.
Townsville council approved the application, as did the State Assessment and Referral Agency, but Mater Health North Queensland appealed the decision.
The not-for-profit Catholic private health organisation, which operates two hospitals in the region, argued the development did not comply with assessment benchmarks in both the Townsville City Plan and the State Heritage Code.
Judge Fantin noted Mater Health’s dominance in the Townsville health market as the primary alternative to the public health system, with 200 beds at two hospitals.
Mater Health argued the proposed new hospital would impact its own hospitals financially, saying it would have a “devastating impact upon the capacity of Mater to provide a full range” of healthcare services to Townsville residents.
The not-for-profit also argued such a financial loss would prevent it from going ahead with planned redevelopments to its own hospitals.
But Judge Fantin said potential financial impacts on Mater by the development were not relevant to planning decisions, and pointed out the 22-bed proposed hospital would only have 10 per cent of Mater’s total operating capacity.
She also noted the high proportion of Townsville residents who elected to use private health cover through the public system – significantly higher than the state average.
Judge Fantin said having such a high number of private patients choosing the public system was “not in the public interest” and increased the burden on public hospitals.
The heritage aspect of the building was also raised, with the development found to be thoughtful and appropriate to “breathe life into a heritage building that has lain vacant and deteriorating for a decade”.
Finding the development proposal had “substantial merit”, Judge Fantin said it was for a “well-designed building” at a site that was “generally consistent with the relevant planning provisions.
“It would facilitate the restoration and adaptive reuse of a significant heritage building,” she said in her decision.
“It would deliver greater access to health services to the people of regional Queensland. It would result in increased competition, choice and convenience, in the provision of hospital services for the Townsville region.
“It would provide a needed, state of the art medical facility in an appropriate location.”
Judge Fantin ruled the development should be approved, finding there were “no relevant matters” to warrant refusal of the development application and the public interest would be “considerably advanced” by its approval.
Cbus Eyes $1bn Infrastructure Target
In the face of a weakening economic outlook, construction industry super fund Cbus is actively targeting an additional $1 billion in infrastructure projects in Australia.
After the mining boom and then the housing boom, the nation’s economic hopes now seemed to be pinned on its biggest-ever infrastructure boom with the government saying it would, where possible, fast track projects from its 10-year, $100 billion infrastructure program.
Yet while investment in infrastructure has been occurring at record levels, with $123 billion of construction work commenced since 2015, the challenge facing policymakers is to maintain and bolster current levels of spending.
Speaking at the Master Builders National Summit in Canberra, Cbus infrastructure chief Diana Callebaut said the super fund developer would be targeting an additional $1 billion in infrastructure projects in Australia, despite the challenging conditions.
“The current environment is difficult to navigate as there are no historical periods that are similar — it’s a black swan event,” Callebaut said.
“Against this backdrop, we are putting to our investment committee a proposal to increase the infrastructure asset class allocation to 13 per cent — which equates to approximately investing an additional $1 billion in infrastructure in Australia and overseas.”
Record low interest rates around the world has fuelled investor appetite for the asset class. Since 2008, global infrastructure capital has grown from $175 billion to $760 billion, according to Callebaut.
In Australia alone, profit-to-member funds have allocations of 10 to 15 per cent compared to a global average of 5 per cent.
“Based on our forecasts, the change to a higher infrastructure allocation has the potential to increase member returns by $350 million over 10 years.”
“While not a panacea for the current environment, infrastructure will play an important role in ensuring our members returns’ are more resilient.”
Callebaut outlined plans to lift the fund’s infrastructure exposure target from 11 per cent to 13 per cent, while at the same time expressing concern about a lack of large prospective projects and problems with the traditional public-private partnership model, specifically — scale, costs, scalability of opportunity and risk allocation.
Cbus is well placed to effectively deploy the increased capital in the competitive market having doubled in size to $50 billion over the past five years benefiting from a stagnation of funds being provided by bank-owned funds.
The super fund manager currently has about 15 per cent of total assets in house, including infrastructure, but that number is expected to double by 2023 according to Callebaut.
Over the last 10 years, the fund has delivered returns on average of 9.39 per cent.
Redeveloping Gold Coast Airport to face the future
In a bid to ensure the longevity of the airport, this Gold Coast Airport expansion will increase capacity and secure the airport’s place in the future of aviation. Carl Bruhn, Queensland Airports Limited Executive General Manager Property and Infrastructure, explains more.
What impact will the terminal expansion have on passenger experience?
Work is now underway on the redevelopment of Gold Coast Airport, which will transform the gateway to the Gold Coast and northern NSW and improve the experience for our passengers. The AU$200 million southern terminal expansion will double the footprint of the existing facility, delivering four aerobridges, additional retail space and new boarding, departure lounge, baggage handling and border-control facilities.
Importantly, the project will address current capacity issues while paving the way for future passenger growth. Currently, about 6.5 million passengers pass through Gold Coast Airport every year, with that figure expected to more than double by 2037.
Construction of a new Rydges-branded hotel – the first hotel on site at Gold Coast Airport – has also begun, which will improve the offer and experience for passengers in the future. The hotel is on track to be delivered by mid-2020, while the new southern terminal is scheduled to open in mid-2021. Once that is complete, the existing terminal will be redeveloped.
What is your favourite feature of the development?
The new terminal will see the provision of four aerobridges, which have long been called for by our passengers and we are excited to deliver. We are also pleased with the innovative use of space in the new terminal, which will allow us to switch between international services – the main operations serviced in the new terminal – and domestic services. This will be done based on demand, using a specially-designed swing gate system.
Have you come up against any challenges?
The number one challenge for us throughout this project has been to ensure the existing terminal is able to operate safely and efficiently during construction. One of our most complex operational challenges has been to ensure our luggage tugs are able to access our existing baggage handling room in the terminal without interruption. This is difficult given the new terminal is being built directly over the entry to the existing baggage handling area. To overcome this, our team has devised a plan to create a tunnelled pathway for the tugs, incorporating a swing-gate system controlled by designated operators, to ensure the separation of the site. This will include everything from lighting, fire detection and ventilation to the security requirements needed to achieve required approvals, while maintaining a safe working environment. The two-way tunnel will be approximately 100m in length once complete and will be incorporated into the design of the new terminal.
How have you made sure the expansion fits within your environmental policy?
Gold Coast Airport’s environmental policy was a key focus during our planning on the Southern Terminal Expansion. This policy is addressed through the implementation of GCA’s Environment Management System. Key components of this system include addressing construction and ongoing impacts on the natural environment and any sustainability considerations. Under this framework, a project-specific Construction and Environment Management Plan was developed to manage these risks. Sustainability considerations also formed a key component of the design, including lighting controls and energy-efficient chillers.
Furthermore, our commitment to sustainability is evidenced by the fact Gold Coast Airport’s parent company, Queensland Airports Limited, recently became one of the first Australian airport groups to secure sustainability-linked bank loan to help fund the terminal expansion. These loans are based on our carbon accreditation and commitment to carbon-emission reduction across all operations at the airport.
What is the best way you have increased capacity at the airport?
As one of Australia’s fastest-growing airports, Gold Coast Airport is faced with an ever-increasing demand for aircraft parking. The airport’s existing apron – constructed in 1979 for since-decommissioned aircraft types – was at risk of becoming inefficient for the busy aviation hub. With passenger numbers growing, a total apron reconfiguration was necessary prior to the start of construction of the new terminal. This project saw aircraft stands reconfigured to a Multiple Aircraft Ramp System (MARS) to create more parking space, and the installation of nearly one kilometre of jet fuel pipeline beneath the active apron.
The Joint User Hydrant Infrastructure (JUHI) expansion project was delivered between June 2017 and November 2018 by Gold Coast Airport and Caltex, with the reconfiguration delivering four additional Code C (narrow body) or three Code E (wide body) aircraft positions, taking the airport’s capacity to 19 parking stands once the terminal expansion is complete. This paves the way for expanded capacity into the future.
In the next few years, more than $550 million is being invested across the Queensland Airports Limited group and Carl Bruhn is leading the team that will deliver the extensive capital program. Bruhn is Queensland Airports Limited Executive General Manager Property and Infrastructure and is responsible for overseeing development activity at Gold Coast, Townsville, Mount Isa and Longreach airports. His team will deliver a large programme of works across the group in coming years, including the $200 million Southern Terminal Expansion and a $50 million airport hotel underway at Gold Coast Airport. An expert in urban development, Bruhn is also a member of the Gold Coast Light Rail Business Advisory Group and a Fellow of the Urban Development Institute of Australia. He spent a number of years with Lendlease as General Manager Town Centres and Senior Project Director on the Varsity Lakes project.
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