Friday, September 18, 2009

No French Quarter for Brisbane

Devine is not proceeding with its French Quarter hotel and apartment project in Alice Street. The site was listed for sale in yesterday's AFR.

See also The Australian

Also, Story in the Courier Mail:

Twin tower plans for Brisbane axed by Devine
Michelle Hele | September 17, 2009 12:00am | CM

ANOTHER residential tower project has fallen over in the Brisbane CBD, with Devine pulling out of its $1 billion French Quarter development. An international competition was held to pick its designer and it was to house the most expensive apartments in Brisbane – up to $15 million.

Devine spent years buying up individual apartments in buildings which are currently on the land so it could control the site on the corner of Albert, Alice and Margaret streets. Stage one was to feature a tower with a luxury six-star hotel, with apartments on top, retail and commercial space on the lower levels and Parisian-style cafes and walkways.

But with Devine appointing agents to sell the property it seems unlikely it will ever be delivered.

Meanwhile, Austcorp's Vision Tower is still in limbo with no work carried out for months and some of the group's companies in the hands of voluntary administrators.

Work is also delayed on Trilogy Tower, an $800 million project on the site of the former Red Cross Blood Bank, and Metacap scrapped plans for its $500 million Empire Square tower on Elizabeth St.

Geoff McIntyre of Jones Lang LaSalle and Rick Bird of Ray White Transact have been appointed to sell the French Quarter site and will market the property internationally. Mr McIntyre said it was a one-in-a-million site. Mr Bird spent months negotiating the individual purchase of units in the apartment blocks. The agents said the plan was to sell the property to another party which would go ahead with the project.

Devine managing director David Devine said he was disappointed but after a review of operations the company realised house and land packages were providing a better short-term return at lower risk. The group was also reviewing its land holdings in Queensland and would sell some soon.

Mr Devine said the focus now would be on buying more land in Victoria so the group could turn it into profits quickly.

"You can't do everything that you want to do," he said. "It is disappointing but the fact is that our business is exceptionally good on the house and land front where demand is high and supply is low. We have too much land in some areas in Queensland and we are looking at selling that."

Mr Devine said good sites such as the French Quarter site would sell in any market. Offers to purchase French Quarter close on November 12. Mr McIntyre said in a good market the site could make up to $90 million. Mr Bird said with all the work that had gone into planning, a developer would have a significant head start on the project.

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