Tired part of Brisbane CBD set for revival with city’s ‘shadiest’ building

A long-neglected corner of the Brisbane CBD has become hot property thanks to the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project, with one developer lodging separate plans to build either one or two commercial towers on a prime riverfront site.

The ambitious plans for 309 North Quay present one of the strongest signals yet that Cross River Rail and associated projects like the rejuvenated Roma St station is driving a revival of development in tired parts of the city unused to receiving much attention in recent times.

The site is one of the most prominent in the CBD untouched by modern redevelopment, having been a warehouse facility and the home of radio stations B105 and Triple M for many years until recently.

Owners Charter Hall and Canadian property group QuadReal lodged two development applications with Brisbane City Council this week, one for a single 20-storey office and commercial tower and another for two separate towers with smaller floor areas.

Both proposals have been promoted to council by development consultants Urbis as an opportunity to build a “key architectural landmark” on the fringe of the CBD.

Charter Hall’s Regional Development Director Bradley Norris said the planned development “represented a unique opportunity to contribute to the revitalisation of the Roma Street precinct, which will be transformed by transport and infrastructure upgrades that are underway or planned”.

“Continued investment from the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council in this area of the CBD, particularly in key city-shaping projects including Cross River Rail and Brisbane Metro, will see Roma Street transform and we are excited to play a part with the development of 309 North Quay,” he said in a statement.

The dual development applications show developers remain uncertain about the impact of the pandemic on the commercial and office market.

Norris said while the single-tower proposal was the company’s preferred design, it opted to lodge a DA for the two-tower proposal as well to “provide ultimate flexibility in managing occupant requirements”.

Architectural firm Blight Rayner worked on the design of both proposals, boasting they would achieve 6-star green star design rating and produce the most “externally sun-shaded building in Brisbane”.

Blight Rayner director Michael Rayner said “These will be the first buildings in the city to be climatically protected by an external sunblade system that accurately responds to different faced orientations, thus generating a visually iconic subtropical city architecture reinforced by organic form”.

The proposed development will feature laneways and arcades to provide a pedestrian link between the Rom St precinct and destinations like North Quay and the William Jolly Bridge.