Waterfront Brisbane: Dexus’ New Retail and Office Development Approved

Real estate company Dexus’ controversial two-tower project, the Waterfront Brisbane office development, has been approved by Brisbane City Council despite public backlash. 

The project itself revolves around the construction of two towers, one 49-storeys tall and the other 43, along Waterfront Place. Once completed, the development is expected to provide locals from suburbs around the Brisbane River with new retail offerings, promenades, and offices.

A 280-metre riverwalk will also be created as part of the development plan, connecting Waterfront Place to the Riparian Palace. Development costs have totaled to $2.1 billion, and the new riverwalk will be funded by BCC. 

The project aims to improve pedestrian view and access of the river, as well create a river link between Eagle St and the river accessible with bicycles and wheelchairs. 

Waterfront Brisbane is set to take up a combined area of 120,000-sqm of office and retail space, aiming to make the most out of Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate by creating riverfront dining and retail outlets, public plazas, and gorgeous promenades along the waterfront. 

Render of Waterfront Brisbane’s proposed retail area.
Photo credit: Dexus

Despite the promising outcome expected from the Dexus development, concerns over the project and what it means for the future of the waterfront have been expressed by some sectors in the community regarding the possible negative impact on the waterfront as the development would  block the view and separate the city from the river. 

“What is now proposed is an anathema – “Waterfront Brisbane” appears as an over-scaled wall of glass positioned without any regard to the established principles respected in the design of all other towers…” Penelope Seidler, director of Harry Seidler and Associates said in a public submission of opposition through the Brisbane City Council’s Planning and Developing Online portal. 

“The building shape forms a wall separating the city from the river,” she added.

Architects behind Waterfront Brisbane, FJMT and Arkhefield, have updated their design in response to these complaints, opting for a more sub-tropical design that ensures the development adheres to the aesthetic and atmosphere of the waterfront. 

Though Dexus had announced the approval of their project in December 2020, construction will not commence until 2022. It is estimated that the first tower will be complete and operational in 2026.