Saturday, November 13, 2010

Will Mosaic Go Ahead?

ONE of Australia's biggest developers has continued to sell units in a proposed $150 million Brisbane tower even though city planners have rejected the project.

Since marketing started a year ago, Leighton Properties has sold just over half of the 212 apartments in its planned Mosaic development at the corner of Ann and East streets in Fortitude Valley.

More than $4 million in deposits has been paid by 107 buyers - many of whom were told the 18-level residential and retail complex would be completed by late 2012.

But Brisbane City Council threw out the development application because of height concerns, forcing Leighton to file an appeal with Queensland's Planning and Environment Court in August.

Leighton state manager Andrew Borger said he met with council planners this week and the two sides were ''narrowing down the issues''.

If no deal is struck, a five-day court hearing has been set down for March next year.

Mosaic unit buyer Wagner Higgins said she recently learned about the question mark hanging over what could be one of the Valley's biggest developments.

''It does concern me because I would really like to live at that address,'' Ms Higgins said. ''But I don't think my money is at risk. The worst-case scenario is I get my money back.''

Ms Higgins, who paid a 10 per cent deposit, said Leighton representatives had been ''very forthcoming'' about the lack of approval and told her they were ''very confident'' it would proceed.

Yet she fears that her penthouse may disappear if height issues force a redesign of the project.

Council records reveal that planners also raised concerns with Leighton about the building's engineering, architecture and landscaping design.

Despite these hurdles, a Mosaic salesman last week claimed that approval was ''imminent'' and construction work would kick off in the first quarter of next year. A crane is already on site working on a neighbouring property.

In its appeal, Leighton said the Mosaic knockback had been ''overtaken by events'' since projects of ''greater building size, bulk and height'' had secured approvals in the Valley.

Among these were a council depot on St Paul's Terrace and a 20-level residential tower at Ann and McLachlan streets, the company said. But a council spokesperson said it was up to buyers to inform themselves before acquiring a property.

''Council strongly recommends people who are interested in buying units off the plan to satisfy themselves that the development has received all relevant development approvals prior to finalising their purchase,'' the spokesperson said.

Source: Courier Mail

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