Aria Property Group has ditched approved plans for an 82-storey mixed-use tower in Brisbane’s CBD, opting instead to transform a run-down laneway behind the site into a food-and-beverage retail precinct.
The Brisbane-based developer received approval in 2016 to build a 652-apartment skyscraper with a four-level podium for retail use on the corner of Edward and Elizabeth streets. It was expected to be one of the tallest buildings in the city if developed.
While that approval expires in June 2020, Aria’s commercial manager Michael Zaicek told Commercial Real Estate that they “have no intentions for a residential development in the near future” for the Edward-Street site, but have other apartment projects underway in East Brisbane, South Brisbane and Kangaroo Point.
The new development application, submitted to Brisbane City Council, outlines plans to decommission the servicing and car park uses of Ulster Lane, off Elizabeth Street, to make way for new retail, commercial and recreational facilities.
The 1000-square-metre site covers four land lots on Edward and Elizabeth streets, including a two-storey retail building and a car parking site, as well as the laneway itself, described in the application as “substantially underutilised”.
The proposed facilities include a semi-outdoor bar and dining area, a cafe on the ground floor of 161-171 Edward Street and a new tenancy for commercial or retail purposes.
Other elements of the proposal include sculptural wall lights, vertical and hanging plants, new paving and outdoor seating.
The laneway will also feature a mural on one side of the facade and exposed brick walls on the other.
Mr Zaicek said there was a lack of quality food amenities in the Brisbane CBD, though that part of the sector was picking up.
“Food is one of few retail categories demonstrating growth. Whilst not immune to the tentacles of online purchasing, it is certainly more resilient,” he said.
“The Brisbane food scene is rapidly evolving and there remains opportunities for innovative and well-considered projects.
“(The laneway) is a totally unique site – we are confident of creating an atmospheric experience.”
The proposal aligns with the council’s plans to establish the area as a “destination precinct” to complement the luxury retailers on Edward Street, as well as the sophisticated retail, residential and entertainment amenities in the wider area, according to the application.
“The proposed development of Ulster Lane will reflect a positive addition to the recreational spaces offered in city, is in line with the revitalisation of underutilised laneways throughout the CBD and inner city, and will improve recreational and entertainment opportunities for residents, workers, and visitors within the city,” it wrote.
When asked about the end value of the Ulster Lane food precinct, Mr Zaicek said it was “difficult to say”, but noted the rental growth potential on Edward Street.
“Rents have increased fourfold over the last 10 years as Edward Street entrenches itself as Queensland’s premier luxury precinct and we expect that trend to continue,” he said.
“The site is irreplaceable enjoying huge Edward Street frontage, significant long-term development upside and located between the Queen Street Mall, Golden Triangle and the new Dexus river precinct.”
It is not the first laneway project Aria has worked on.
The developer transformed the once-tired Fish Lane in South Brisbane to a 500-metre dining and arts laneway between 2014 and 2018.
It also created a new laneway, Eden Lane, crossing through its mixed-use development of the same name in Brisbane’s fringe suburb Woolloongabba.
If the Ulster Lane project receives approval, works will be completed in a single stage.