Saturday, May 31, 2008

Westin to Block Casino Towers and Festival Towers views

Here is a photograph that I took today from the South side of the Brisbane River.

Casino Towers is the tallest looking building, in the centre of the photo. (Casino Towers is 120 metres high). To the left of Casino Towers, you can see Festival Towers. The Casino is the old building in the foreground. Number 111 George Street is on the far right (145 metres).

Below, is a similar photo, showing the planned Westin Empire Square building. As you can see, Festival Towers will be impacted (you can't even see it in the photo below), and many apartments in that building that have river views today may not have river views when the Westin is complete. The Westin Empire Square will be 62 levels and 220 metres high. Also, a number of the "back" apartments in Casino Towers will have their views taken away by the Westin Empire Square.

Devine to Shadow Gardens

Trilogy Update

Brisbane Building Heights

Trilogy (proposed) - 265 m
Vision (proposed) - 259 m
Empire Square (proposed) - 250 m
French Quarter (proposed) - 230 m ??
Aurora - 207 m
Riparian Plaza - 200 m
Skyline - 150 m
Waterfront Place - 162 m
M on Mary - 145 m
Charlotte Towers - 138 m
Festival Towers - 135 m
Felix - 131 m
Admiralty Towers Two - 126 m
Casino Towers - 120 m

Friday, May 23, 2008

French Quarter - New Two Tower Design

From today's Courier Mail

THE designer behind the famous sail-shaped Burj Al Arab luxury hotel in Dubai has won an international competition to design Devine's $1 billion French Quarter precinct in Brisbane.

The design of two towers by Tom Wright of Atkins has been selected from a field of five international architectural firms which were vying for the honour.

Atkins is also the group behind the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Dubai.

Devine managing director David Devine said yesterday now that the concept for the building had been selected planning work would start with an eye to lodging a development application in the next couple of months.

The towers will form the centrepiece of Devine's $1 billion French Quarter, a 6-star hotel and residential development.

It is to built on sites fronting Albert, Margaret and Alice streets which Devine amalgamated throughout last year. Once complete it will feature two towers housing a 6-star hotel, residential apartments, retail and commercial space.

This will all be linked by a Parisian-style cafe and walkway.

Apartments in the development will be priced from $1.5 million. Prices will reach $15 million – the most expensive apartments ever to be marketed in Brisbane.

"This project will be a true coming of age for Brisbane," Mr Devine said.

Expressions of interest for an international operator to run the hotel component of the development is down to a short list with the successful operator expected to be announced soon.

Mr Devine said none of those on the shortlist were currently operating in Brisbane.

It is also the first project by Atkins in Australia.

Mr Wright said he hoped to bring a new level of luxury and sophistication to the Brisbane skyline with the design.

Mr Wright and his team will now be commissioned to work with Devine's local design firm ML Design to develop the final plans before a development application is lodged.

It is hoped construction will start in 2009 and be finished in 2012.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Brisbane Project Sales - First Quarter 2008

Not including M on Mary (for which no data is easily available), there were only six new apartment projects selling in the January to March 08 quarter. These were Aurora, Evolution, Pinnacle, Skyline, The Macrossan and Vision. (Empire Square and Trilogy Tower were taking expressions of interest, but no contracts were issued or signed in this quarter.)

Of these six buildings, there were only 20 reported sales in the first quarter 2008.

Aurora - 2 sold, none remaining for sale
Evolution - 3 sold, 23 available for sale
Pinnacle - 1 sold, 12 available for sale
Skyline - 2 sold, 16 available for sale
The Macrossan - 1 sold, 13 available for sale
Vision - 11 sold, more than 100 available for sale
Empire Square - about 100 available for sale
Trilogy - 192 hotel rooms and 109 Skyhomes available for sale

Totals - 20 sold, about 592 available for sale.

By way of reference, there are just under 7000 completed apartments in the Brisbane CBD. In 2007, there were 1229 apartment sales in the Brisbane CBD.

Example Rents in Brisbane City

New Buildings - Furnished

1 bed, no car - M on Mary - $500 per week
2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - Evolution - $900 per week
2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - Skyline - $1,300 per week
3 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - Skyline - $900 per week
3 bed, 2 bath, 3 cars - Riparian - $2200 per week

Other Buildings - Furnished

2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - Admiralty Towers - $680 per week
2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - Saville South Bank - $740 per week

New Buildings - Unfurnished

2 bed, 1 bath, 1 car - Evolution - $650 per week
2 bed, 2 bath, no car - Aurora - $660 per week
3 bed, 2 bath, 2 car - Skyline - $1500 per week
3 bed, 2 bath, 3 car - Riparian - $1850 per week

Other Buildings - Unfurnished

2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - Admiralty Two - $580 per week
2 bed, 3 bath, 1 car - Metro 21 - $575 per week

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Admiralty One - New Listings

Admiralty One, which in my opinion, has some of the best apartment buildings in Brisbane, has two 2 bedroom apartments for sale. The best two bedroom design in AD1 is over 130 sqm, which is 30 sqm larger than the largest 2 bedroom in Skyline. This design has a separate kitchen and separate laundry room, and is on the end of the building, so that the kitchen and bathroom have windows. Also, AD1 is direct river front, the body corporate fund and sinking fund have plenty of cash, and the building prohibits short term rentals.

Two bedrooms, for sale at $900,000

Two bedrooms, for sale at $850,000

Three bedrooms, for sale at $2,500,000

Grey Street Redevelopment

The street scape at Grey Street at South Bank will greatly improved with the proposed development of Stage Two of the Brisbane Convention Centre. The development will be over the rail line, and will front Grey Street, next to Rydges Hotel. It will improve the street when walking from the Cultural Centre and Museums along Grey Street to the Saville Hotel area.

See South Bank Newsletter.

Trilogy Tower - Going Ahead

Trilogy is a building that will have three parts - office, hotel and residents. APH tried to sell the office component and failed. See Brisbane's $300m Trilogy tower campaign fails from The Australian.

That article states:

APH managing director John Wilson said a funding package, led by the Bank of Scotland, was now in place for Trilogy and negotiations finalised with builder Laing O'Rourke.

"At no stage have we hesitated," he said.

A deal had been signed with a five-star hotel operator and would be announced soon.

Marketing would begin this month on the sale of the 192 one- and two-bedroom hotel apartments, which would range in price from $500,000 to $900,000.

The 110 residential apartments at the top of the tower would be priced between $1 million and $5million.

A start of work on the $700 million Trilogy -- which APH said would be taller than any other existing building in Brisbane -- would confirm the race had begun to deliver the city's next generation of super towers.

However, with funding difficult in the wake of the credit crisis, analysts believe many of the developments proposed for Brisbane will fail to materialise.

With timing now crucial, GPT Group has started work on its $500 million 111 Eagle Street tower nearby, and work is under way on Austcorp's $1 billion Vision tower.

APH has begun demolition on its site between Queen and Adelaide streets and expects to start construction next month.

Mr Wilson said special techniques would speed construction and allow delivery of the office space by May 2011.

"As far as we know we will be first to market, in terms of buildings that are about to start," Mr Wilson said.

Meanwhile, Metacap Developments -- a joint venture between Sydney-based Newell Palmer Securities and Brisbane developer Alex Jimenez -- has announced it will start construction in the new financial year on its $500 million Empire Square tower on Elizabeth Street. It secured a deal last year with five-star hotel operator Westin over the 306 hotel rooms and 104 branded apartments.

Empire Square will include about 23,500sqm of A-grade office space.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Meriton Tower - Back to the Drawing Board

Meriton told to resubmit plans for 'appalling' skyscraper
Georgina Robinson | May 7, 2008

Property developer Meriton has been unceremoniously told to go back to the drawing board with plans to build an "appalling-looking" 76-storey skyscraper in the Brisbane CBD.

Liberal and Labor politicians used a meeting of Brisbane City Council's urban planning committee to roundly condemn the proposed Adelaide Street tower for its potential traffic impacts and "appalling design". Lord Mayor Campbell Newman also made an unusual visit to the meeting to declare his opposition to the 403-unit project in its current form.

The proposed site is at the intersection of Adelaide and Macrossan Streets in the so-called Petrie Bight, one of Brisbane's most densely populated precincts. Its 400-plus units would be a mixture of serviced and residential apartments, set atop a podium of commercial space and 10 levels of carparking.

Central ward councillor David Hinchliffe said many locals were worried another influx of apartment dwellers would choke the tiny streets around the area, which is already home to Skyline and the Macrossan building, which is under construction. But Meriton planning manager Walter Gordon said the company had been working closely with council planners for 12 months to sort out the traffic issues.

Council planning chair Amanda Cooper said the committee was also "underwhelmed" with the tower's design. "We want to see something we're proud of, not something we're trying to disguise with other things around it," Cr Cooper said.

And Cr Newman asked his comments be noted in the meeting minutes. "We've been talking about excellence in design for years here," he said. "This does nothing, I don't see any merit in that whatsoever." A disappointed Mr Gordon said he was unaware such objections existed. "I'm a bit disappointed that having worked so closely with council and we come up to this stage to hear nobody likes it," he said. The committee instructed Meriton and council planning officers to do more work on traffic management and design.

Trilogy - New tower will ease five-star room shortage

From the Sunday Mail today:

CONSTRUCTION will begin next month on Brisbane's latest luxury hotel as the city continues to face a critical accommodation shortage.

Trilogy, which will feature 192 five-star one and two-bedroom hotel apartments in a 70-storey tower, will be the first five-star hotel built in Brisbane for a decade. A report released by Deloitte last week found Brisbane had the fourth-highest hotel occupancy rate in the world at 84.3 per cent. "It's pretty powerful, compelling evidence of the need for more hotel rooms in Brisbane," said John Wilson of APH Capital Partners, backers of the $700 million development. "There's a tremendous demand for five-star rooms in the city." Trilogy will have a massive lantern incorporated into the design, which will light up the night sky over the CBD and make it one of the city's most recognisable buildings.

"It will be an incredible landmark," he said. "Our intent was to make it something that over time will be instantly recognisable. "There are buildings around the world that people recognise and associate with particular cities and this will become one of them."

At 265m, APH is also claiming it will be Brisbane's tallest building, although it could be overtaken by Vision, a 287m residential and commercial tower planned for the city.

Trilogy will be built on the site formerly occupied by the Red Cross building at 480 Queen St. Demolition has begun and construction will start in June. It should be completed about the middle of 2012. In addition to the hotel, it will feature 109 luxury residential apartments and 28 levels of offices. The cost of building traditional luxury hotels had been prohibitive, but Trilogy will be selling the hotel apartments as strata titles to individual investors and leased back to the hotel operator – to be named later this month.

Prices for the fully furnished rooms – with views over the Brisbane River, Story Bridge and the city – will range from $500,000 to $900,000.

The Deloitte annual Hotel Occupancy Global Ranking Index, which compares 165 cities outside North America, listed Perth at No. 1. Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide also joined Brisbane in the Top 20.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ray White's Inner City Unit Report

Ray White's Inner City Unit Report 2007 has the following statistics:

Brisbane CBD (downtown area only) for apartments
Year 2007:
Number of Sales - 940
Median Sale Price - $445,000
Highest Price Sale - $4,700,000
% Brisbane Change - 4.5%
506 apartments sold between $250,000 and $499,999
188 apartments sold between $500,000 and $749,999
63 apartments sold between $750,000 and $1M

Year 2006:
Number of Sales - 817
Median Sale Price - $425,000
Highest Price Sale - $3,800,000
% Brisbane Change - 8.5%
486 apartments sold between $250,000 and $499,999
168 apartments sold between $500,000 and $749,999
40 apartments sold between $750,000 and $1M

Year 2005:
Number of Sales - 1,049
Median Sale Price - $392,000
Highest Price Sale - $7,370,000
% Brisbane Change - 11.5%
542 apartments sold between $250,000 and $499,999
181 apartments sold between $500,000 and $749,999
41 apartments sold between $750,000 and $1M

Water's Edge at West End - Now Released

Pradella's Water End development (Stage 1) at West End has been released. Pricing is aggressive.

1 bedroom (Apartment Type G - 61 sqm internal). High floors will likely have river views.
Facing South/West - $475,000 to $625,000
Facing North - $495,000 to $695,000
Most of these sold out on the first day of pre-release.

2 bedrooms

Apartment Type L - 84 sqm internal
Facing North - $665,000 to $945,000
To get a river view, I think you need to pay at least $835,000 for this style apartment.
Plans below. Click on plan to enlarge. As you can see, one bedroom really has no windows.

Apartment Type C2 - 103 sqm internal
Facing North, and close to the river but not a direct river view
$1,055,000 to $1,295,000. Not all of these will have a river view.

Apartment Type D - 113 sqm internal
Facing North, and in the centre of the complex with a pool view and some higher floors will have a river view.
$1,095,000 to $1,320,000.

There are other 2 bedroom layouts, and facing different directions.

3 bedrooms

Apartment Type C1 - 115 sqm internal
3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom (one bedroom does not have a window - see plan below)
Facing north, but not direct riverfront and some may be too low to have river views - $1,230,000 to $1,630,000

Direct riverfront 3 bedrooms - Types A1 and A2 (159 sqm internal), facing West
$1,945,000 to $2,245,000

Skyline's River Vista

This is a photo of a 2 bedroom "I type" apartment in Skyline. This apartment is 87 sqm internal, and was sold as having Brisbane River vistas. From the photo, you can see that it has a great view of Admiralty Towers. On the right, you can see the door to the second bedroom. It is a strange shaped apartment, with bad karma. The living room (seen in the photo) is not wide enough, and the dining area is a triangle shaped alcove. The kitchen faces a blank wall.

Brisbane Median House Price Growth

The following are reported Brisbane median house price growth rates, reported by various data providers:

March 08 Quarter

ABS: 2.8%
RP Data: 2.1%
Residex: 3.8%
APM: 2%

April 07 to March 08

ABS: 20.8%
RP Data: 17.3%
Residex: 21.2%
APM: 18.4%

Devine's Cathedral Place Apartments "Unliveable"

See Brisbane Times Article

Matusik Comments on Brisbane Property

From the Brisbane Times:
  • While Mr Matusik predicts prices will not increase by more than eight per cent this year, he believes the key ingredients for continued growth remain strong.
  • "Some commentators are claiming that the residential property market has come to a 'screaming halt', but there still remains some price growth."
  • "In the short-term buyers are keeping their power dry following the interest rate rises over the last six months... but out recent survey work shows investors are starting to stir."
  • With rents climbing at double-digit rates, Mr Matusik believes investors will return to the market during the course of the year.
  • He predicts property prices in Brisbane will grow by 25 per cent in the next three years if interest rates remain steady and economic conditions improve.

Empire Square Article

Extracts from the Brisbane Times:

  • Construction will begin later this year on a 65-storey residential, commercial and hotel high-rise on Elizabeth Street that is set to dominate Brisbane's skyline.
  • The tower will comprise 306 luxury hotel suites, 98 two and three-bedroom apartments and six penthouses.
  • A recreational area will be located on level 30 of the building and feature a luxury day spa, 20m indoor swimming pool, sauna and gym.
  • Metacap director James Chopard said permanent residents would have access to services like gourmet chef-prepared room service, housekeeping, a concierge and valet parking.
  • Designed by architecture firm Cottee Parker, the soaring green skyscraper will dwarf neighbouring buildings and sit across from the car park entrance to the Myer Centre.
  • Colliers International has been appointed as marketing agents for the development and two-bedroom apartments will be priced from $1.3 million.
  • Construction is expected to start at the end of the year and completion is scheduled for 2012.
See: Press Release

See video

Will Flow be Impacted by Waters Edge?

Flow, at West End, was developed by Pradella. Next door, Pradella is developing Waters Edge. It looks from this photo that Waters Edge will crowd out Flow and impact its views.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Brisbane Trends

According to Australian Property Monitors:

"Decline of 2 per cent in apartment prices was observed in Brisbane, which may indicate softening investor demand."

“The party is definitely over for property investors, at least for now. Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra apartment markets have all experienced declines in value over the March quarter.”

Brisbane Apartments: March 08: $324,457; December 07: $331,302 March 07: $295,286

It is unclear to me from this report, actual what these figures measure. For example, if there are more forced sales of "Devine" investor apartments, by investors who overpaid and who are struggling with mortgage repayments, and other investors and owners are holding on to quality stock, will this impact the above statistics. Are these numbers really "like for like" comparisons.

Full report at:

RP Data reports in its Property Pulse today:

"In Australia’s largest market, Sydney, houses and units are averaging between 44 and 49 days to sell. At the other end of the spectrum, Brisbane properties are averaging around a month to sell the average home."

"The RP Data/Rismark International end of month Property Value Indices Report now indicates that while the Australian property market has softened, it remains steady with national values increasing by 1.46 per cent over the three months to March ’08, an annualised return of around 6 per cent.

Despite interest rate rises and inflation fears, this is quite a good result and demonstrates the good risk/return characteristics of diversification in an Australian residential property portfolio.

When compared to the share market, this return seems all the more positive. As an example, during the March quarter the ASX200 and All Ordinaries dropped 15.5 per cent and 15.8 per cent respectively.

Based on the RP Data – Rismark findings, the only capital cities to record a fall in property values were Perth and Canberra where dwelling values declined by 1.0 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively over the quarter. Despite the fall, Perth units hold the most expensive median value of any capital city at $464,000."

"Brisbane recorded growth of around 20 per cent with most regions delivering returns of 15-20 per cent over the year to March ’08. Inner city Brisbane stands out as the best performing region with growth of 35 per cent over the year."

"Another rise in interest rates will certainly cool the market further. The markets most affected will be the mortgage belts of Australia where mortgage stress is already at critical levels. A further rate rise could see property prices fall a further five percent in these locations. On the other hand, a constant interest rate environment would likely put a floor under many areas which have seen significant value falls. If rates remain stable over the next twelve month we would expect national dwelling values to remain in positive growth territory. "

Interesting Apartments for Sale In Brisbane

Riparian: 3 bedroom with great river views, high quality building: listed at $3,300,000

Admiralty One: 3 bedrooms on high floor, great river views, high quality building: listed at $2,500,000

River Place Villa, 3 bedrooms, listed at $2,100,000

River Place, 3 bedrooms, listed at $2,000,000

Admiralty Two, 3 bedrooms, high quality building listed at $1,300,000

River Place, 2 bedrooms, renovated with new kitchen: listed at $900,000

River Place, 2 bedrooms: listed at $690,000

Quay West: large 1 bedroom over looking the Botanical Gardens, high quality building: listed at $550,000

All the above have "never to be built out" views.

Also, Aurora: 2 bedrooms, corner, high floor, but may be impacted by Trilogy: listed at $749,000

I will be interested to see what these apartments actually sell for.

Water's Edge at West End - Release Date

According to an email from Colliers, Waters Edge at West End will be released for sale next week:

Prices from

· 1 bedroom from $495,000

· 2 bedroom from $575,000

· Large 2 bedroom from $815,000

· 3 bedroom from $1,085,000

· Large 3 bedroom from $1,945,000

Car parking

1 & 2 bedroom - one space
Large 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom - two spaces

Settlement - 2010