27 Jun 2012

Brisbane awash with players

Frank Lowy’s Westfield Group and Echo Entertainment, backed by James Packer, have expressed their interest in developing the Queensland government’s riverfront precinct in Brisbane.

The Newman government wants to build a multibillion-dollar development on the waterfront, similar to Sydney’s Barangaroo, which will provide office space for government departments, with cultural and retail precincts. A casino is also a possibility.

The Minister for Housing and Public Works, Bruce Flegg, said nearly 40 companies had submitted a registration of interest.

“The registrations range from international consortiums and major Australian building firms through to smaller property developers.”

Local developers including Watpac, which is backed by property identity and Tatts Group director Kevin Seymour, has shown its interest alongside Echo Entertainment.

CBus Property, Hansen Yuncken, Mirvac and Leighton Properties have all registered.

Investa Property Group executive Michael Cook said Investa was one of the largest owners of property in the Brisbane CBD and would certainly be interested in the development.

“We are very optimistic about Brisbane and are keen to maintain a strong presence,” he said.

Local developer Nielson Properties, which has already developed part of the city’s northern precinct through the construction and $290 million sale of Santos Place, said it was also interested.

“We think it is a great opportunity. We think the government’s move makes a lot of sense,” Ross Nielson said.

Dr Flegg said there would be further opportunities to attract private sector investment for commercial office space, retail, residential, hotel and entertainment facilities as the precinct plan progressed.

“Given the signs of economic stress in the building and construction industry, the precinct master plan will provide a much needed stimulus, and I am pleased with the level of interest it has attracted,” he said.

Subject to cabinet approval, it is expected that formal submissions for the project will be invited around September this year.

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