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.

Dexus To Proceed With DA For Waterfront Brisbane

Following a facilitation agreement with the state government,  real estate investment trust company Dexus can now proceed with the development application and detailed design stage for Waterfront Brisbane.

Waterfront Brisbane is a key project in Dexus’s $8.7-billion development pipeline. It is aimed at transforming Brisbane’s Eagle Street Pier into a premium business and leisure destination. 

Photo Credit: dsdmip.qld.gov.au

The proposal for the $2.1-billion development includes:

  • Two premium office and mixed-use towers on the Eagle Street Pier site
  • A variety of riverfront restaurants, casual eateries and shops
  • New and revitalised public realm, featuring around 7900 square metres of open space (including approximately 3900 square metres in the Eagle Street Pier area), incorporating a market square and steps, urban verandah terraces, an extension of the City Reach Riverwalk and a new ‘green’ corridor connecting Eagle Street to the Riverwalk
  • Enhanced City Reach Riverwalk supporting cyclists and pedestrians
  • Upgraded wharf facilities supporting commercial and river tourism operations with provisions to support the delivery of a new City Reach ferry terminal
  • Upgrade to the Creek Street and Charlotte Street intersection to improve pedestrian connectivity

In addition to boosting tourism in Queensland, the project would also create jobs in the state. Over the next decade, it’s expected to create 1120 annual construction jobs on average, with an additional 916 operational jobs supported once construction has completed.

“This is a landmark project that’s estimated to provide a $5.7 billion boost to Queensland’s Gross State Product (GSP) over the next 40 years, including $230 million in value add to our state’s construction and professional services sectors,” Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said in a media statement.

Dexus, who owns Australia’s largest office towers, anticipates the required code-compliant applications will be submitted to Brisbane City Council by mid-2020. 

The company’s Chief Investment Officer Ross Du Vernet said, “This is a significant milestone that unlocks the considerable potential in this Brisbane CBD gateway site which has sat under-developed for almost 30 years.”

Delivery of the project will be staged and subject to the leading property group securing the relevant approval. Eagle Street Pier site’s construction is expected to commence in 2022 and the first tower to be delivered in 2026.