A light at the end of George Street
ELLEN LUTTONFebruary 20, 2010
Moving on up ... many businesses are moving their offices away from the riverside area. Photo: Michelle Smith
The demographic of Brisbane's CBD is shifting as corporations leave the riverside for the palatial new surrounds of the North Quarter precinct.
Previously unloved by all but backpackers and train commuters, the North Quarter precinct makes up the section of the CBD incorporating the Roma Street Transit Centre, parklands, North Quay and the new Brisbane Magistrates Court at the northern end of George Street.
Nearly $2 billion has been spent rejuvenating the area in the past five years, including the construction of the Kurilpa Bridge, which links the CBD with the Gallery of Modern Art and Southbank.
Besides the new Magistrates Court and Supreme Court complex, which is due for completion next year, and the renovation of the old McDonnell & East building, office highrises have steadily gone up two of which have been completed in the past couple of months.
Mark Curtain, national director of Jones Lang LaSalle Brisbane, said the success of the precinct was evident in the number of high profile relocations that had taken place.
He said groups such Santos, British Gas, Suncorp, Telstra and state and federal government bodies had packed up their offices in the Golden Triangle - the Eagle Street and Riverside place area - and moved, lured to the North Quarter precinct by more competitive rents, in-house childcare facilities and an abundance of new and exciting amenities.
"Telstra consolidated offices they had all over the CBD into 275 George Street, taking out the largest commercial lease in Brisbane's history," Mr Curtain said.
"There's no question that this development has been a success and it's now being considered as a very viable alternative to the Golden Triangle. You have to give people a reason to move and this precinct has them in spades.
"You've got high-quality office accommodation, fantastic retail such as the gourmet food hall in 400 George Street and the in-built childcare centres and then there's the costing, which was very competitive."
Anna Dunworth of Knight Frank said occupancy rates were high in all of the buildings, particularly in the 400 George Street and 32 Tank Street buildings, which were only completed a few months ago.
She said the North Quarter had quickly become Brisbane's new "law precinct."
"Being so close to the new Magistrates Courts, the Commonwealth Courts and the soon-to-be completed Supreme Courts, barristers and law firms have been keen to move their offices into the area," she said.
"The facilities and retail that are available to them, not to mention the transport links, the Kurilpa Bridge and the close proximity to the Queen Street Mall, make it an ideal place to work from."
John McDonald, from Ray White Commercial, has been involved in leasing out two office towers in the Roma Street Transit Centre and said his job has been made much harder since the new buildings were constructed.
"It's a catch-22 because companies looking for office space want great facilities and the retailers that would get them in, such as Woolworths and Coles, won't commit until the offices spaces are filled," he said.
"It has been a challenge convincing companies to take out office space in the Transit Centre when there's been other offices across the road that are brand new."
However he said even the Transit Centre was getting a full makeover in line with the rest of the precinct.
"Telstra moved out of a total of 29,000 square-metres in November last year and we commenced work immediately once they vacated," he said.
"The refurbishment works will bring a previously B-grade building up to an A-grade standard, with new amenities, air conditioning, foyers and have a 4.5 star Nebars rating.
Mr McDonald said tenants in the area had been very focussed on transport and green amenities such as bike paths and bike facilities.
"The North Quarter has great bike path access especially since the new Kurilpa bridge opened and we're finding a lot of companies are putting things like bike racks, lockers and showers high on their list of needs which I think shows a big shift in their needs."
He said Ray White Commercial was close to announcing its first major commitment to the Transit Centre and that about 3000 workers would move back into the building around July this year.
"Once this happens, this will drive the retail refurbishment,'" he said.