Sunday, December 2, 2007

Casino Tower Falls

Oaks has taken over the management of Casino Towers (another Devine building) and has the aim of turning this into a short term accommodation building.

Casino Towers has many apartments with good views over the river to South Bank. But it has its share of problems, even before Oaks gets involved. It faces West. Once it was advertised as having "never to to built out views", owners are now concerned that a large building is planned for right in front on the river as part of the North Bank project. And many of the apartments are poorly laid out, with small window or windows in a room facing the wrong direction.

Oaks is taking over the bottom end buildings in Brisbane:

Oaks Aspire - Ipswich (Opening Soon)
Oaks Lexicon - Brisbane CBD
Oaks 212 Margaret - Brisbane CBD
Oaks Felix - Brisbane CBD
Oaks Festival Towers - Brisbane CBD
Oaks North Quay - Brisbane CBD
Oaks Seaforth Resort - Sunshine Coast
Oaks Calypso Plaza Resort - Coolangatta
Oaks Anchorage - Townsville
Oaks City Quays - Cairns
Oaks Piermonde - Cairns
Oaks Lagoons - Port Douglas

And many occupiers are complaining:

Brisbane Apartment Sales

Koko (a Stockland development)
Apartment 238 - Greenwich Building - 2 bed 2 bath pool view - sold at auction on 1 December 2007 for $553,000

Arbour On Grey (a Mirvac development)
Apartment 1320 = Stage One, 3rd floor, 3 bedrooms - Sold for $1,100,000
Apartment 2214 = Stage Two, 2nd floor, 3 bedrooms - Sold for $962,500
Third floor, 2 bedroom apartment recently sold for more than $700,000

1901/132 Alice St, Brisbane - $850,000 (Quay West)
206/132 Alice St, Brisbane - $750,000 (Quay West)


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Brisbane Featured in New York Times

Once Just a Stopover, an Australian City Grows Up


Published: November 4, 2007

ONCE just a stopover for tourists en route to either the Great Barrier Reef or the beaches on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts, the eastern Australian city of Brisbane has emerged as an alluring destination in its own right.



The Emporium Hotel (61-73-253-6999; 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, has doubles from 295 Australian dollars.

The recently opened Saville South Bank hotel (61-73-305-2500, 161 Grey Street, South Bank; is a short walk to the Queensland Performing Arts Complex, the State Art Gallery and museums. Studio apartments with kitchenettes from 398 Australian dollars.

Recent Brisbane Apartment Sales

Felix (26 Felix Street) Apt 194, sold for $412,000

River City (79 Albert Street) - Apt 1703 - sold at auction for $428,000

Festival Towers (108 Albert Street) - Apt 3109 - failed to sell at auction - highest bid was $440,000

Charlotte Towers (128 Charlotte Street) - Apt 507 - failed to sell at auction - highest bid was $330,000

Trilogy Tower

The pre-sales website has been launched for Trilogy Tower, on Queen Street. See

The developer, APH, is selling the whole building. There have been full page advertisements in the Financial Review.

Although not yet started, this building will be 70 floors high, located next door to Aurora.

"Trilogy Tower is situated on Queen Street, Brisbane's main street, and is destined to be the city's most famous landmark in the decades to come.

Due for completion in 2011, it will dominate the city and the waterfront from its position at the gateway to the CBD's highly prized 'Golden Triangle', the preferred location for Brisbane's leading corporate tenants.

Trilogy Tower is also conveniently sited within strolling distance of Brisbane's main shopping precinct, the majority of Brisbane's fine dining restaurants and many upmarket stores and lifestyle boutiques."

The building will include apartments:

"109 single and double storey prestige residential apartments

  • Occupation late 2011
  • World-class interior designs
  • Residents will have access to premium services (TBA)
  • Access to Residents private recreation deck including pool and spa on level 53
  • Dedicated high-speed lifts for residents use only
  • Secured basement carparks
  • Secured basement storage facilities"

And a hotel:

  • Five-star All Suite Hotel to commence operation in late 2011
  • Managed by Five-star hotel operator
  • 192 one and two bedroom hotel apartments
  • Dedicated Porte Cochere and Reception via Adelaide Street
  • Business Centre
  • Functions Centre
  • 25m heated pool
  • Fitness Centre
  • Stunning views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge from all levels
  • Secured basement carpark
  • High speed lifts dedicated for hotel guests only
  • Five-star furniture packages available
  • One and Two bedroom Five-star Hotel Apartments available for investment from only AUD $450,000"

Flow West End

There is always a risk buying off the plan. Typically, that risk is off-set by getting a lower price -- i.e., buying at today's prices, but not having to pay until tomorrow.

That does not always hold true, if the initial pricing is too high. One example of an overpriced off the plan development was FKP's Vue, where a number of people appear to have sold recently for less than they paid off the plan.

Pradella is pricing its off-the-plan developments aggressively. One example is Flow at West End. Flow has been marketed off the plan for a number of years. Today's prices are about the same as one of the original price lists published over a year ago. A price list from 2006 is here. Settlement is in 4 weeks. There are some really nice apartments in Flow, and they are larger than normal. The better views are to the west, however.

This is one development where it looks like waiting until settlement (unless you got an insiders price or discount) would have been best in relation to price. However, most of the good apartments have sold, so waiting is not necessarily the best thing to do if that is where you would like to live!

Some Flow apartments listed for sale today (developer stock):

  • Apt 31, 3 bed, 4th floor, river views $1,425,000 (price was $1,375,000)
  • Apt 23, 3 bed, 3rd floor $1,405,000 (price was $1,380,000)
  • Apt 57, 2 bed, 2rd floor $970,000 (price was $970,000)
  • Apt 13, 2 bed, 1st floor $890,000 (price was $840,000)
  • Apt 51, 2 bed, 1st floor $890,000 (price was $930,000)
  • Apt 52, 3 bed, 1st floor $1,275,000 (price was $1,250,000)
  • Apt 14, 2 bed, 1st floor, $695,000 (price was $685,000)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Brisbane Apartment Short Term or Hotel Stays in Suites

I am often asked which apartment buildings are good for short term stays. That is, which apartments in Brisbane downtown and nearby are furnished, safe and have good facilities.

These are my recommendations, in this order:

1. Quay West, on Alice Street overlooking the Botanical Gardens.

Consistently rated as the number one hotel in Brisbane on TripAdvisor.
One and two bedroom suites, with daily service and room service. Pool, gym, restaurant. Large balcony. Great location and great views from all suites. The one bedroom suites have kitchen, large living area with desk, laundry room, bathroom and large bedroom. Two modern flat screen TVs. The nicest pool in Brisbane. Operated by Mirvac.
Book here.

2. Felix Apartments on Felix Street at Eagle Street.

An apartment building that Oaks has turned into a short term stay building. Good location, and most rooms have river views. Pool. Partly air conditioned (not central air conditioning). No room service. No hotel facilities. Good clientèle. Weekly clean.
Book here.

3. Saville Hotel at SouthBank

Only 18 months old, one of the newest hotels in Brisbane. Great location, just out of the downtown, but with many good restaurants nearby. A full service modern hotel. Pool and gym. Room service.
Book here.

4. Oaks - 212 Margaret Street

This was once a good place to stay, but now has a large construction site next door. No services.
Book here.

5. Oxygen Apartments, at Spring Hill

This is a favourite place for IT workers. Small apartments, just out of the city. No services.
Book here.


The best hotel, for a standard hotel room, is Stamford Plaza, on the Brisbane River. Book here.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Recent Apartment Sales in Brisbane


  • Festival Towers, Apartment 3109 - did not sell at auction - highest bidder $440,000
  • Charlotte Towers, Apartment 507 - did not sell at auction - highest bidder $330,000
  • Saville SouthBank, Apartment 1307 - sold prior to auction for $1,400,000


  • 99/204 Alice Street, Brisbane - $480,000 (The Gardens)
  • 901/108 Albert Street, Brisbane - $407,000 (Festival Towers)
  • 655/420 Queen St, Brisbane - $1,050,000 (Aurora)
  • 651/420 Queen Street, Brisbane - $1,135,000 (Aurora)
  • 1001/255 Ann Street, Brisbane - $290,000 (Rendezvous Hotel)
  • 2004/21 Mary Street, Brisbane - $500,000 (Metro 21)
  • 1004/35 Astor Terrace, Brisbane - $315,000 (The Astor)
  • 5304/226 Margaret Street, Brisbane - $3,740,000 (Vision - off the plan sale)

There are plenty of listings in Festival Towers and Charlotte Towers. (For example, Margaret Waters has a corner apartment listed on level 26 (apartment 2601) for $475,000. And see other posts below.) This doesn't help the price in these two Devine buildings, as there is always competition between vendors.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What is happening at Charlotte Towers?

There have been protests in the street by tenants living in Charlotte Towers, due to Oaks taking over management of the apartment building and trying to turn it into a hotel.

Devine, the developer, has been advertising that only two apartments remain for sale. For example, in the Courier Mail "Home" section on 20 October, there is a half page advertorial titled "Guaranteed return" saying that there "are only two residences remaining for sale in the recently completed 416-apartment development". According to the article, one residence is a one bedroom priced at $367,000 and the other is a 2 bedroom priced at $498.000. Devine is offering a rental guarantee on these apartments, but says nothing about Oaks and its efforts to move the building to short stay rentals. Ken Woodley, the Devine national marketing manager (who, lives an a Mirvac apartment on Alice Street in Brisbane) is quoted in the "article".

Strangely, Colliers PRD project marketing team just listed a number of apartments for sale in Charlotte Towers. I wonder if this is developer stock? It looks like developer stock. If so, how can Devine honestly say that only 2 apartments remain for sale?

The newly listed apartments include:
Devine's own website lists four apartments for sale in Charlotte Towers:
Do you believe Devine that only two apartments are left for sale in Charlotte Towers? My guess is that the developer is holding more stock than this.

Devine's shareholder report states that about 30 apartments remained for sale on 30 June 2007, and that sale of all the remaining units were expected in the December 07 half.

It is noted that 2 bed apartments on the lower level failed to sell at auction earlier this year, with the best bid being $360,000.

I would avoid Charlotte Towers at all cost!

Kingshome Apartments - Taringa - Auction Result

Kingshome Apartments
310/190 Swann Road, Taringa
Ray White reports as follows:

Sold Friday 05-Oct-07

SOLD - Under the Hammer - Record Price - $1,350,000

Magnificent 3 bedroom apartment

Panoramic north-easterly city skyline views

2 car secure parking with storage lock-up

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Skyline's views to further diminish?

Before you buy or rent in Skyline, read the Skyline posts below. Also, have a look at this area plan, available on the Internet. You can see that Skyline could easily become boxed in, with limited views in most directions. (Similar comments for Macrossan Apartments.)

In addition, the Australian Financial Review reported this week that Meriton lodged plans to build a 70 storey tower on the corner of Boundary and Adelaide Streets, with 200 serviced apartments (not to be sold), 200 residential apartments and 3 floors of offices. This will impact Macrossan and Skyline.

Tall Building in Queen Street, next to Aurora

Be careful if you intend to buy or rent in Aurora apartments in Brisbane. A huge building is proposed for next door.

See the pre-sales website. Hotel, offices and 109 apartments.

I hear that Aurora has many other problems. For example, count the number of lifts and the number of apartments. What is the average waiting time? And how many people are in each apartment? What is the condition of the common facilities -- are they getting too much use because of the number of people per apartment? What about the cold storage room for groceries and the residents workshop? Does the iris scan security work? Who is the resident manager, and what is the relationship between the resident manager and the developer?

FKP's Albion Development

FKP has an interesting project planned for Albion, called the Albion Mill. See and

South Bank - Arbour on Grey - Recent Sale

Apartment 2218, 180 Grey Street, South Bank
Arbour on Grey, a Mirvac development
Sold at auction for $635,000.
2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, Stage 2, 2nd floor.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Recent Apartment Auction Results and Apartments for Sale

These are auction results from the Ray White auction rooms, for a series of auctions taking place on Friday 21 September 2007.

  • Charlotte Towers - Apartment 4405 - Level 44 - 2 bedrooms, 2 cars, facing North West - $610,000
  • Aurora - Apartment 331 - Level 33 - 2 bedroom - 107sqm - 1 car - $620,000
  • Aurora - Apartment 509 - Level 50 - 2 bedroom - $515,000
  • Festival Towers - 2 bedroom - $495,000
Ray White has these apartments el cheapo apartments listed for sale (as at early October 2007) in Festival Towers,

108 Albert Street

  • Festival Towers - Apt 604 - 1 bed, 53 sqm internal, H type with no view - very small balcony (3 sqm) no car park - $295,000
  • Festival Towers - Apt 1405 - 1 bed, 53 sqm internal, I type with no view - very small balcony (3 sqm) no car park - $300,000
  • Festival Towers - Apt 901 - 2 bed, 2 bath, 75 sqm internal - E type on corner - very small balcony (3 sqm) - $417,000
  • Festival Towers - Apt 1311 - 1 bed, 54 sqm internal, M type with no view - very small balcony (4 sqm) no car park - $315,000
  • Festival Towers - Apt 1401 - 2 bed, 2 bath, 75 sqm internal - E type on corner - very small balcony (3 sqm) - $435,000
  • Festival Towers - Apt 1408- 2 bed, 2 bath, 83 sqm internal - D1 type - looking into back of M on Mary, very small balcony (3 sqm)- $415,000
  • Festival Towers - Apt 3601 - 2 bed, 2 bath, 75 sqm internal - N type on corner - balcony that can be closed in (10 sqm) - $515,000
  • Festival Towers - Apt 3702- 2 bed, 2 bath, 87 sqm including balcony - O type, one of the better plans - looking into Charlotte Street, however view of river to West will be lost when Westin Hotel is built on Elizabeth Street, small balcony (5 sqm)- overpriced at $525,000
  • Festival Towers - Apt 3902- 2 bed, 2 bath, 87 sqm including balcony - O type, one of the better plans - looking into Charlotte Street, however view of river to West will be lost when Westin Hotel is built on Elizabeth Street, small balcony (5 sqm)- very overpriced at $555,000
  • Festival Towers - Apt 2502- 2 bed, 2 bath, 87 sqm including balcony - O type, one of the better plans - looking into Charlotte Street, small balcony (5 sqm)- auction at end of October

Monday, September 24, 2007

Indigo Sued - Kelvin Grove Village Development

Today's Australian Financial Review (p. 60) reports a lawsuit against the developer of the Kelvin Grove Village apartment complex by three retailers. The developer is Indigo.

"According to the court documents, an Indigo employee had told the prospective retail tenants that more apartments had been sold in the complex than was the case."

I have always assumed this to be the case for most developments. I have seen agents say "development 50% sold" when that is not the case, or "construction started" when only demolition has started and the developer has not even obtained finance.

The AFR reports that several stores in the Village have already closed down, it would seem due to lack of people traffic.

The retailers are claiming over $700,000 in damages.

I visited the development last year, and my opinion was (at that time) that it was a dog. It seemed that it would take many years, if ever, for the area to develop into something. Although geographically close to the city, it is too isolated -- one cannot easily walk to the city, and the walk is unpleasant as you have to walk along major roads and cross a highway and a railway. There are no decent shops or facilities in walking distance -- other than the ones that are in the complex, and it appears that some are closing or have closed down. No-one I know living nearby would select the Village as a destination for shopping or relaxing.

The website states:

"Bordered by the Victoria Park Golf Course, Brisbane Grammar Schools, Queensland University of Technology, State Primary and High schools and within easy access to Royal Brisbane Hospital, the RNA Showgrounds, the Aquatic Centre, Suncorp Sports Stadium and the magnificant (sic) Roma Street Parklands - its the ideal location."

Really, the site is bordered four other development sites. Or your could say it is bordered by the six lane Kelvin Grove Road and the six lane Inner City Bypass highway. To get to Brisbane Grammar School, you have to cross the Inner City Bypass highway and a large railway line.

It is also in a gully.

About this time last year, none of the $770,000 townhouses had been sold.

A one bedroom is listed today at $420,000 by the developer being sued. Now, that sounds expensive! For that price, you could buy a 2 bed 1 bath in Skyline in the city, or a 1 bed in Quay West, or a 2 bed in a Devine building in the city.

Or you could snap up a 2 bedroom apartment from $549,000 to $625,000!!! (These are 77 to 90 sqm internal.) That is over $5,500 a sqm (including balcony) - very expensive for a suburb apartment building that has been on the market for some time.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Brisbane Apartments in the Suburbs

Sometimes, apartments in the suburbs provide better value than city apartments.

If in a good location and near transport, there is a greater pool of possible residents -- students, young city workers, retired couples, single mothers/fathers with one or two children, widows and the like. In other words, people who want convenience, but not the problems with looking after a house; people who want safety and facilities, but not a city apartment.

The areas of Brisbane that I think will have good capital growth over the next five years are:

  • St Lucia -- near the city, Toowong and the University of Queensland. Some apartments have river and city views.
  • Indooroopilly -- many facilities, on a main train line, near excellent schools and the University of Queensland. Some apartments have river and city views.
  • Toowong -- close to the city, with facilities at Toowong Village, and a transport hub.
  • Taringa (between Toowong and Indooroopilly) and on a train line
  • Sherwood -- a nice village atmosphere, only 12 km from the city, and on a train line. Near good parks and schools.

People often say West End will be the next hot spot in Brisbane. My view is that the facilities are not as good as the above. I prefer the Southbank area to West End, as you have city and river views and face north. Most of West End faces West (e.g., see the view here.)

There are big plans for Indooroopilly and Toowong redevelopments. This will drive up prices of existing quality apartments.

But you have to be careful, as there are poor quality apartments or apartments in poor locations (i.e., on major roads) in these areas.

I recommend the following apartments and off-the-plan developments.


  • Fresh Apartments in Toowong -- a resort style complex, with two pools (completion in early 2008)
  • Ciana at Indooroopilly -- includes pool, restaurant and club (completion in late 2008)
  • Parklands at Sherwood (completion in 2009) currently in pre-sales, includes pool

Typically, a two bedroom two bathroom apartment in these complexes is about $500,000, and will be about 85 sqm internal, and (in addition) a large balcony of about 30 sqm and airconditioned.

Example existing complexes

  • Riva at Indooroopilly - river views, pool (which are always fully rented)
  • Ikon at Indooroopilly, on Station Road, which is the subject of about 3 or 4 proposed new developments
  • Encore at Toowong pool, close to excellent park (which are always fully rented)

Pradella's New West End Development

Soon, Flow will be complete. Next door, Pradella will launch a new West End riverside development. I suspect it will be worth considering.

It does not have a name, but it does have a website.

Pradella will have developed three West End riverside complexes:
  • Flow (to be completed in 2007) which looked extremely overpriced, but now just looks expensive; some apartments will be excellent (riverside on high floor) and some are not great
  • New and unnamed
  • LeftBank which is still looking very good
Stockland has Koko, which didn't live up to expectations.

And there is Riverpoint, currently selling off-the-plan, which looks very mixed.

I suspect there will be more to come.

Brisbane Riverfront Apartment Sales

Quay West in Alice Street, Brisbane

A two bedroom apartment at Quay West (Apartment 2006) on Level 20, on the western side of the building, sold yesterday at auction for $830,000.

West End - New Development called Riverpoint

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Grosvenor

Today, apartment 2601 in the Grosvenor Building (corner of Alice Street and Edward Street) went to auction. It was passed in, without a bid and did not sell today.

This is a Mirvac building. It is in a great location, overlooking the Botantical Gardens and the Brisbane River, and opposite the Stamford Plaza hotel.

Some of the apartments in this building are fantastic. Some have strange floor plans. It is one of the more expensive apartment buildings in Brisbane, and only about one or two apartments get listed for sale each year. Mostly owner-occupiers.

Apartment 2601 is described by the agent, Dixon Johnston, as follows:
"The Grosvenor is a truly magnificent residential complex boasting incredible views across the Botanic Gardens, Brisbane River and city

Apartment 2601 is one of just two, 2-storey penthouses and enjoys generous living spaces, quality finishes and those ideal NE facing views

Situated right in the heart of the CBD, The Grosvenor is just an easy stroll to all the restaurants, cafes and sights the city has to offer"


Skyline apartments in Brisbane are nearing completion. Settlement is planned for late October or November.

Colliers PRD reports that as at the end of June 2007 quarter, 33 of the 192 apartments remain for sale.

I was told that the developer had a number of 3 bedroom apartments available for sale. All 2 bedroom apartments have been sold by the developer.

I was also told that many people purchased off the plan with the intent of reselling around settlement.

I had a tour through the building, and was mostly disappointed. I was glad that I didn't buy any apartments.

Some comments:
  • J type - 78 sqm internal, 98 sqm total. This was sold as a two bedroom, but the second bedroom is fully internal, and has "windows" looking into the kitchen. It is really a one bed plus study. It has river views between Admiralty Quays and Admiralty One. It was sold off the plan in the high $500K. There have been resales at less than $600,000, and there are many of these apartments on the market for resale. Overall, these are small, darkish apartments, and in my opinion are not very nice. My opinion is that these apartments are not worth more than $500,000.
  • I type - 87 sqm internal, 102 sqm total. Two bed, two baths, no walk-in-robe. This apartment is a triangle in shape. You enter into the kitchen, which has a strange shape, and the island bench looks at a blank wall. The kitchen is around a corner, so to speak, and is dark. The dining area is large, and the living room has limited views between Admiralty Quays and Admiralty One. Both bedrooms are at the front, with views. This could have been a good apartment, apart from the overall shape and kitchen -- which does not work. There are a number of these apartments for resale between $650,000 and $680,000. My opinion is that these apartments are not worth more than $600,000.
  • G2 type - 117 sqm internal, 142 sqm in total. Three bed, two baths. This apartment has a large feeling. There is a river view from the balcony and sideways from the living room. The living/dining/kitchen have a really nice vista down Howard Street to the city. The bedrooms are at the back of the building (Arch Lane). For the moment, they have a western vista across the northern end of the downtown. This view will soon disappear with Macrossan Apartments are built right next door, probably turning these nice apartments into dark apartments. The main bedroom has an open bathroom, so from the bed you have a view of two vanity basins. The built in wardrobes are in the bathroom. So what could have been a nice apartment has a strange main bedroom/ensuite design and will soon the bedrooms will be built out by Macrossan Apartments. The developer has a number of these available from $720,000 to $885,000, and is prepare to discount them to clear. There are resales starting at $690,000. On a price per sqm basis, these are good value. But long term, it will not be good. So I would value these at $650,000.
  • K type - 101 sqm internal, 120 sqm in total. This is a small three bedroom at the front on the north-eastern side. When you walk in the door, and from the back of the apartment -- wow! A great river view. But as you move forward, you notice that this apartment is really behind Admiralty Quays. The main bedroom, at the front, basically looks into the back of Admiralty Quays. The living room is set up so that from your couch, when looking at the TV, your view out the window is of Admiralty Quays and not the river. The main ensuite has the same flaws as the G2 type. The second and third bedrooms look at the back of Devine's River Place. This is a small 3 bedroom, that has little privacy and a bad feeling due to Admiralty Quays. The developer has stock left at $835,000 to $855,000. There are resales available for $800,000 and less. My view is that these apartments are worth about $750,000.
  • On the high floors are some magnificent three beds plus media room. They combine, in effect, the I and J types. All three bedrooms are at the front, and they are high enough to look over the Admiralty buildings. These are magnificent apartments. Resales at about level 30 around $1,500,000.
The onsite rental people give this information regarding rentals:

Unfurnished: $360.00
Furnished: $420.00

Unfurnished: $550.00
Furnished: $650.00

Unfurnished: $750.00
Furnished: $950.00

Unfurnished: $950.00
Furnished: $1100.00
Other comments. The pool is very small, and closed in by Admiralty Quays and Skyline. The tennis court looks fine, but has no lights and cannot be used at night -- and so will not be useful for most city workers. The quality of finishes is good, but becoming standard. Nothing that you would not expect from a new city apartment building. There will be two retail stores on the ground floor.

Overall, my opinion is that this is a B grade location. It will be no different to Aurora Towers -- river views, one block back. It is not a prime position, and is surrounded on one side by buildings and soon will be surrounded on the other side. There appear to be many speculators who have bought of the plan. It suspect that they will get burnt. Owner-occupiers will be disappointed with the floor plans, and anyone below level 30 will be disappointed with the views. It is, in my opinion, misleading to call this building riverfront, and to say that it is "the only Brisbane high-rise development to boast river vistas from every single apartment" is clearly misleading, as the H and H1 apartments on the lower floors have only a tiny glimpse of the river between River Place and its car park.

SL8 at West End

When I inquired a few weeks ago, SL8 at West End didn't have many apartments available.

It is still in pre-release, so FKP must be very happy.

Colliers PRD reports that in the June 07 quarter, 60 of the 112 apartments have been sold, at an average price of $566,000.

I was not thrilled with the location of this building. It is a long walk to the main street in West End. It is one street back from the river, but with two 7 story buildings between SL8 and the river. Most floors of SL8 will have no or limited river views, and the ones that do, are western facing. The building overlooks an ugly warehouse and commercial strip, with the Tempo block behind that.

Coronation Residences at Milton

Coronation Residences at Milton is a luxury apartment block, overlooking Coronation Drive and the Brisbane River.

The developer is currently discounting the remaining apartments.

The cheapest is a 3 bedroom on the Western side, level 1, at $995,000. It is 137 sqm internally, with a total of 198 sqm. (There are level 2 and 3 apartments available with the same floor plan, at $1,075,000 and $1,150,000.) The only problem with this apartment is that the wall of glass on the Western side looks into an office building.

There is a two story two bed apartment on Levels 5 and 6, unit 36. It is huge, with 142 sqm internal, and two balconies overlooking the river, to give a total of 169 sqm. Each bedroom and the dining room, lounge and kitchen have river and city views. There are two bathrooms and a powder room.

A magnificent 3 bedroom, floor-through, apartment on level 5, which is 200 sqm and listed at $1,395,000.

These apartments have the some of the best finishes in Brisbane. All have river views.

The only issue is that that they get noise from Coronation Drive. The windows are all double glazed, so there is little noise in the apartment. But it is not quiet on the balcony.

Compared with Riverpoint or Flow, these apartments are a bargain.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Festival Towers

I recently visited two apartments in Festival Towers, a Devine development in Albert Street in Brisbane.

Recently, the management rights were sold to the Oaks Group.

The complex is very lively. The common rooms and bbq areas at about 5pm were packed. Mostly foreign students.

The apartments on the South East side (e.g., S, T and U types) have now had their views blocked by M on Mary, a building designed mostly for students. A big loss of privacy for this side of Festival Towers.

The apartments on the North West side (e.g., P and O types) now have a river view in a Western direction, towards South Bank and Milton. That view will be lost when the new Westin Hotel building, Empire Square, is constructed on Elizabeth Street.

Two bedroom apartments in Festival Towers are selling in the $400,000s. They range in size from 85 sqm to much smaller, e.g., less than 75 sqm.

Koko at West End

One agent told me recently that Stockland has a significant number of unsold apartments at the Koko development at West End. Another agent told me that the apartment complex has a significant problem getting water for the courtyard gardens, and that it was costing the body corporate more than expected.

I found the gardens over all to be disappointing at Koko. Looking at the original marketing material, and comparing what resulted, there is a big difference. One example: the pool had clear glass-like pool fencing in the brochure; but the pool was built with an ugly metal pool fence.

A number of apartments are being resold, with 2 bedrooms of about 85 sqm being sold for less than $600,000, even $550,000.

A three bedroom on the top floor is listed at $1,450,000.

They just don't seem to be selling that fast.

Vue Apartments on Coronation Drive

FKP's Vue apartment complex is not having much luck. There are two towers, one owned and marketed by FKP, and the other owner by private investors and marketed by Ray White (originally marketed by FKP on their behalf).

The complex did not sell out, and still has a number of apartments for sale.

Possibly, it is because of the location. On the corner of Coronation Drive and the Inner City ByPass. Soon, a new bridge will be built right across the river in front of the complex.

The prices for the unsold apartments have been reduced.

At the end of August 2007, one of the best three bedroom apartments went to auction. It is on the 8th floor with river views. It was originally marketed in the high $700,000s, and it sold for $562,000. Other similar apartments are still for sale at about $660,000.

Details: 2806/92-100 Quay St, sold by RE/MAX Property Centre, sold at auction for $562,000.

FKP is currently selling SL8 in West End, which is one street back from the River and behind Tempo (still with unsold apartments) and LeftBank (completed 2004).

FKP will soon launch a complex to be built over the Milton Railway Station and next to the brewery. It is to be called Union at Milton.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mary Street Developments

It has been reported that Devine has bought a two level complex at 99 Mary Street in Brisbane, which is adjacent to Devine's River City apartment building (at 79 Albert Street). Devine is said to be planning an A-grade office building. This will block views from the eastern side of River City apartments.

There are also plans for an office tower at 110 Mary Street, which is opposite 99 Mary Street. This is a 24 level office tower, called the Mattise Tower. This is next door to the Quest River Park Central Serviced Apartments building, and will block the views on the western side of that building.

There is also the large Vision apartment building at 105 Mary Street, which will be more than 60 levels. This will also impact the Quest River Park Central Serviced Apartments building, and will block the park views of the Charlotte Towers building.

There is also talk that the Kings Carpark at 53 Albert Street will be redeveloped, impacting River City apartments.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Charlotte Towers

There were two auctions yesterday (16 June 2007) for apartments in Charlotte Towers (128 Charlotte Street, Brisbane). The apartments up for auction were apartments 703 and 903, which are lower floor, 2 bedroom apartments. Both failed to sell, despite a well publicised auction and marketing campaign. The highest bid for each apartment was $360,000.

Based on sales around town, it is my view that fair market value for a two bedroom apartment in Charlotte Towers would be in the range $400,000 to $420,000, depending on the floor, whether the apartment faces West, and whether it has one or two bathrooms.

Agents have reported to me that a number of apartments in Charlotte Towers have been rented to students, and that in some apartments there are over 6 students living in a 2 bedroom apartment, and that one apartment had about 10 students living there.

The management of the rental pool has been sold to Oaks Hotel group, and I wonder if the current manager cares about the quality of the tenants.

Also, the river views for this apartment building will mostly disappear when the Vision building is complete.

I can only see apartments in Charlotte Towers going down in value.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

New Hotels on Alice Street

It has been reported that the Royal on the Park on Alice Street in Brisbane will be demolished and turned into a large six star hotel. Also, Devine is said to be building an apartment hotel on the corner of Alice and Albert Streets. So you should take care if you are in a building that is on Margaret or Mary Street, as you may not have a view.

Admiralty One Website

The Admiralty One Tower in Brisbane has a new website, with floor plans and photos. Have a look at

This website is good if you are looking to rent an apartment in Brisbane.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Where to Find Good Apartments for Rent in Brisbane

See updated post: click here.

Many of the good apartments for rent are hard to find. Often, this is because they are snapped up quickly. Also, onsite managers often control the rental rolls, and don't often advertise on the usual property websites (as they don't need to do so). Some have their own website. Also, onsite managers may have a relationship with executive relocation services, that are feed the better apartments.

If you are looking for a place to rent a good inner city apartment, I believe that this is the best site to look at:

Also, try:

You have to find out how each manager advertises his/her vacancy. You want to avoid any buildings managed by Oaks, as they focus on short term hotel style rentals.

Some places to look:

I recommend Arbour on Grey at SouthBank:

Also, Saville at SouthBank is one of the nicest buildings if you get a river facing apartment:

I know people at LeftBank at West End who like living there, but it is a little bit far to walk to any shops -- it is in an industrial area:

In the city, Admiralty One, is good value - see prior posts:

Admiralty Quays and Admiralty Two are also good quality.

Nearby on the river in the city is River Place, that is not as good quality, but is likely to have availability as this is a large complex. Careful of Storey Bridge noise. Great views.

On Alice Street in the city, if you can get an apartment in Quay West, that is fantastic, as it has park and river views -- for long term rentals, the best agent to try is Blockside & Fergerson for this building. Half of this building is a hotel managed, so it is easy to get short term accommodation in Quay West. All apartments are privately owned. You want to get above level 7.

For an inner city downtown building, Metro 21 is one of the better quality buildings. It has only 4 apartments per floor -- and tries to be more upmarket so is better than most buildings that aim at students -- it seems to have better availability, and some of the two bedroom apartments have three bathrooms. The baloneys are large:

In the back of Toowong, Encore is a relatively nice complex, with good pricing (but currently construction next door, so take care of which apartment).

St Lucia is harder to find quality -- there are few onsite managers.

In Indooroopilly, Riva is the only quality building -- again, some are noisy due to nearby construction. Some have river views.

This is a list by a selling agent about various innercity buildings:

Auction Results

Each Saturday night, a set of auction results are published by APM. Take care when looking at the results, as the clearance rates published are not accurate. For example, Ray White often has auctions on Friday morning in Brisbane (often at Riverside Centre or Rydges Hotel). These auction results are not included. Some agents do not report auction results. For the most part, taking into account unreported results, auction clearance rates in Brisbane are rarely above 50%.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Will You Have Hotel Guests Staying In Your Building?

A number of Brisbane apartment buildings are being slowly turned into hotels by the Oaks Group, who have purchased management rights for the buildings.

If you are thinking of buying an apartment to live in, or renting an apartment for six months or more, you should take care not to buy or rent in apartment buildings that are or will soon become short term stay accommodation. The reason - the other "residents" of the building may only be staying for one or two nights -- there have been complaints about noise, parties, security issues, overuse of facilities such as pools, rubbish left in halls, and parking in the wrong spaces.

The apartments in such buildings will not, in my view, have good capital gains, as they will be less desirable for owner-occupiers and will become run down over time.

You should take extreme care before buying or renting in the following buildings:

  • Festival Towers
  • Felix
  • Charlotte Towers
  • 212 Margaret Street
  • River City
  • Any building managed by the Oaks Group
  • Any building built by Devine
  • Any building where the management rights are controlled by a real estate agent named Marshall.

(I see that a 2 bedroom apartment in Festival Towers, on level 31, recently was sold at auction by Ray White for $410,000. Another one on level 39 was unsold with the highest bid less than $450,000. It is now listed for sale at $499,000. Other apartments in the same building that are not as good as listed for sale in the high $400K and above $500,000 -- TAKE CARE!)

Here is a recent press report:

Oaks Hotels & Resorts has ramped up its growing domination of the Brisbane CBD accommodation market after snaring the management letting rights (MLRs) to two premier high-rise apartment towers, the 41 level Festival Towers and the 39 level River City project, for $14.1 million.

Today’s announced deal for the two properties delivers an additional 532 apartments to the rapidly expanding Oaks stable.

Managing director Brett Pointon says the latest acquisitions will boost Oaks Brisbane CBD portfolio to seven high-rise apartment buildings including Oaks 212 Margaret Street, Oaks Lexicon Apartments, Oaks North Quay, Oaks on Felix and Charlotte Towers (Oaks to take over management in October 2007).

While the 532 apartments delivered under the latest acquisition will initially be included in Oaks permanent letting pool, the company expects to progressively convert a majority into its short-term serviced letting pool to compete in Brisbane’s burgeoning short-stay market.

There is also a further 89 apartments in the buildings that are owner occupied or managed by external agents.

Pointon says Oaks expects to swell its short-term room stable from the 3,489 to over 3,600 serviced apartments by the end of June 2007.

In addition to the MLRs to the two properties, Oaks also acquired the freehold to the manager’s apartments in both properties for $1.45 million.

He adds the two latest acquisitions and the commissioning of Charlotte Towers deliver Oaks an unrivalled position in the increasingly buoyant Brisbane CBD accommodation market, and deliver a pipeline of units to further swell its serviced letting pool over the next two to three years.

"We’re expecting the market to continue tightening given the lack of any mooted major new hotels or serviced apartment projects in the CBD for the foreseeable future, with the exception of Charlotte Towers, which we’ve already secured the MLR for," he says.

"With Brisbane now boasting the highest hotel occupancy rate in Australia at around 80 percent, this strengthened presence in the local market will prove a cornerstone of Oaks financial performance over the next several years."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Admiralty One

I am often asked to recommend apartment buildings to new arrivals in Brisbane, either for long term rental accommodation or for purchase. This is the first in a series highlighting what I believe are good apartment buildings in Brisbane.

My favourite building is Admiralty One (or Admiralty I), at 35 Howard Street, Brisbane.

It is 28 floors (87 metres) high, all residential apartments. The building was completed in 1992. It has less than 160 apartments.

It is in an excellent location, right on the Brisbane River, and a very short walk along the river boardwalk to the downtown area.

On the lower levels, there are seven apartments per floor. At the front (i.e., on the river side) are a large 2 bedroom (132 sqm), a smaller 2 bedroom (106 sqm), a one bedroom (79 sqm) and a large 2 bedroom (132 sqm). All four of these apartments have river views, and regardless of what floor you are on, the views are fantastic. The views include the Storey Bridge in one direction and the Kangaroo Point cliffs in the other direction. At the back of the building, with city views or partial river views, are two one bedroom apartments (72 sqm) and a two bedroom apartment (98 sqm).

On the higher levels, there are five apartments per floor (three at the front, two at the back). The front apartments include three bedroom apartments, and the sizes of the front aparmtents range from 149 sqm to 197 sqm). At the back, there are two apartments at 105 sqm.

There is also a subpenthouse level (three apartments) and a penthouse level.

As you can see, the apartments in Admiralty One are much larger than apartments in newer buildings. For example, a typical 2 bedroom apartment in a new building is lucky to have 85 sqm of internal floor area. In Admiralty One, there are 2 bedroom apartments with over 115 sqm of internal floor area.

The building is well managed, and the body corporate committee is very professional and caring.

I believe that there are more owner-occupiers than renters in Admiralty One.

The building has undercover secure resident parking, secure guest parking, a small indoor pool, a gym and an onsite restaurant (Bubbles and Beans).

Positive Aspects
  • Large apartments
  • Fantastic views from front apartments
  • Absolute riverfront
  • Excellent inner city location
  • Four elevators for 28 floors (a very good ratio compared with newer buildings)
  • Good security
  • Pool
  • Gym
  • Caring and more mature residents
  • Good on-site management
  • Most apartments are airconditioned
  • Most apartments have their own laundry room
  • Good closet and cupboard space
  • Quality kitchens and bathrooms
  • Close to Marriott Hotel and restaurants
  • Far enough away from Storey Bridge so cannot hear traffic noise.
Negative Aspects
  • No view from the pool, as it faces the city side
  • Smaller balconies
  • Hard to get river front apartment in this building
Rental Inquiries

The best place to start is the on-site manager. Recently, there has been a change in on-site managers, as the previous manager (Leon Azar) moved to Arbour on Grey at South Bank. The new on-site managers are Jenny and Kingsley Short, telephone 07 3831 6455

The onsite manager maintains an Internet website at:

Typically, a large furnished two bedroom apartment with river views will rent for more than $640 per week. An unfurnished two bedroom apartment with river views will rent for $430 per week.

Each owner will furnish the apartment to a different standard, so the furnishing in one apartment is not at all representative of the style, quality or age of the furnishings in any other apartment.

Sales Inquiries

I recommend Margaret Waters as a good agent who knows riverfront apartment buildings.

An agent from West End, Open House Realty, is trying to get more business from sales in Admiralty One, but my experience with them has not been good for a number of reasons. I also understand that Open House is somehow associated with the on-site managers, as well as the on-site managers for a nearby building (River Place). It appears that they are trying to sell apartments to investors, rather than owner-occupiers, as the investors will then rent the apartment through the on-site managers.

Recent sales in 2007 include:
  • Apartment 56 (Floor 9, 106 sqm, 2 bedrooms, river side) for more than $650,000.
  • Apartment 92 (Floor 14, 1 bedroom, river side) for more than $500,000


This Blog is designed to provide information about buying or renting apartments in Brisbane, Australia.