Posted: Nov 15, 2011, 12:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Fontana, California
Developers in race to the summit
BY: JAMIE WALKER AND ROSANNE BARRETT
From: The Australian November 09, 2011 12:00AM
An artist's impression of the proposed 111+222 development in Brisbane, which would be the city's tallest building. Source: The Courier-Mail
Source: The Australian
THE race to the sky is heating up in Brisbane, with local authorities last night approving the city's first 90-storey tower in defiance of a flat residential property market and already heavy high-rise unit development.
Depending on who you speak to, the proposed 274m skyscraper is either a vote of confidence in CBD living or an oversized act of folly.
The building will rise from the inner-city site that was earmarked for the failed "Vision" tower, which was supposed to be the country's third-tallest building until the 2008 global financial crisis brought it back to earth.
When Brisbane's CBD was flooded last January, the excavated basement pit filled with muddy waste water.
Its planned successor, given development approval last night by Brisbane City Council, will contain a 380-room hotel, offices, parking and no fewer than 800 apartments over 90 floors.
For now, it is known as 111+222 - unglamorously after the numbers of its corner site on downtown Mary and Margaret streets.
Brisbane council set to approve tower
If the project proceeds, it will join "High-rise" Harry Triguboff's Meriton group's newly occupied Soleil tower (234m, 74 storeys, 464 apartments) and the under-construction Infinity project (260m, 81 storeys, 546 apartments) in dominating the Brisbane skyline.
Forget the house on stilts: a unit in the sky is becoming the signature place to live in the Queensland capital.
In the CBD, the existing Aurora and Riparian Plaza buildings contain hundreds of apartments scattered over 67 and 53 levels respectively.
More than 650 high-rise units are being constructed at Waterfront Newstead, overlooked by the city towers, and the first stage of the nearby Albion Mill development will add 134 more.
Bowen Hills, two train stops from the CBD, bristles with cranes as another cluster of apartment blocks go up.
Independent property analyst Michael Matusik doubts, however, whether the proposed 111+222 tower will fare any better than its ill-fated predecessor, Vision.
He worked on that development 10 years ago, and said it was simply too big for its own good.
Mr Matusik said the developers of the new building, Billbergia Group, would probably run into the same trouble securing pre-sales and project finance.
"There is enormous risk with a building that size, but good luck to them," he said.
It doesn't help that Brisbane has been knocked off its perch as Australia's happening property market, with local home prices falling by 5.2 per cent over the past 12 months, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics -- more than any other capital.
Billbergia spokesman Rick Graf insisted the new tower might exceed its current approved height if the developers could overcome air traffic control concerns and persuade the council to allow a planned extension to 300m.
"There aren't too many projects of this stage being done around Australia at the moment but this one has more legs than most," Mr Graf said yesterday, unveiling the development plan.
"The market has to be able to absorb what you can produce, and we're confident the package we've put together here will be very marketable."
At 300m, the proposed tower would be Australia's second-tallest building, behind Q1 on the Gold Coast (322.5m). Under the existing plan, it would still come in third after Melbourne's Eureka Tower (297.3m).