Plans Revealed For New Torrens University Campus In Fortitude Valley

torrens-fortitude-valley

Torrens University is planning to establish yet another campus in Fortitude Valley, which will sit adjacent to a proposed 29-storey student accommodation tower.


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A development application (A005787848) submitted by Mount Cathay Pty Ltd to Brisbane City Council revealed the entire project will be done in two stages, with the first one for the redevelopment of the former Waltons department store (also known as the Overell building) to accommodate the new campus; and the second one for the student housing tower.

Aerial view of subject site (Photo credit: developmenti.brisbane.qld.gov.au

The new campus and tower have been mooted since 2019, but internal issues delayed the entire development. Torrens University has a 12-year lease deal on the property as the anchor tenant of the university component.

Brunswick Street frontage (Photo credit: developmenti.brisbane.qld.gov.au

The original facade of the heritage building will be retained, but it will undergo extensive internal demolition to proceed with the development of a new Torrens University campus. A public open-air plaza on the former Braggs site is being planned to provide a connection to the site. There is also a proposal to include a link at the end of the laneway connecting to Brunswick Street and the Valley train station.

Meanwhile, the 3,489 sqm complex will include a 29-storey student accommodation tower, though it will not be operated by the university. It would feature an associated office, shop and café uses as well as some basement car parking. 

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If approved, it will be built at the site of the heritage Waltons department store, which ceased trading in the 1980s and has largely remained in a dilapidated state for decades. Some smaller retail tenancies are accommodated in the buildings currently but to Brunswick Street only. 

At present, Torrens University has two campuses in Brisbane –one in Lower Bowen Tce, Fortitude Valley and another  in Gotha Street, Fortitude Valley. The main campus is located at the heritage-listed Torrens Building on Victoria Square in Adelaide. If given the go-ahead, the new campus will begin accepting students in 2023.

About the Overell Building

Photo credit: Brisbane City Council

The heritage-listed building was built in 1883 as a small drapery store, owned by business partners William James Overell and Thomas White. When White left the business in 1889, his shares were all transferred to Overell, who expanded the business by adding premises in Queen Street and other stores around southern Queensland.

Photo credit: Brisbane City Council

When Overell’s business grew in 1899, he bought 729.2sqm of land near the corner of Brunswick and Wickham Streets and hired Addison and Corrie to design the site. However, the new premises were destroyed by fire in 1900. Overell hired architects Eaton and Bates to design a replacement building, which featured more light and ventilation, larger departments, three entrances, with shopping on the ground level, furniture and delivery departments in the basement, and a workshop on the upper floor.

The success of Overells continued well into the 1930s and 1940s. In 1953 Overell’s was replaced by Sydney department store Walton-Sears, one of four branches opened in November 1953 as the company expanded into Queensland. Title passed to Waltons in 1956, and the company made significant internal alterations in 1960s and 1970s.