Blink and you’ll miss it. That’s how quickly Brisbane seems to be changing right now. Every month a new precinct or development is completed and opened, subtly remoulding the city skyline.
Still, Queen’s Wharf is unique. Late last month, Destination Brisbane Consortium submitted a masterplan to the Queensland government for the largest development application in the state’s history.
It’s an eye-watering document to say the least. Forty separate reports and thousands of pages of designs addressing a 27-hectare parcel of riverside real estate at the southern end of the city. “The area sits across from South Bank, the cultural centre of our city, but has been completely under-utilised until now,” says Geoff Hogg, the Queensland managing director of the Star Entertainment Group, one of the consortium’s members.
Having already commenced construction in January of this year, the Queen’s Wharf development will have cost an estimated $3 billion by its completion in 2024. Adding more than 56,000 people a day to the city, it will completely re-arrange the CBD between Alice and Elizabeth streets. “The site will take over 10 per cent of the current CBD, which is substantial,” Hogg says. “The CBD, wrapped around the river, is small. Queen’s Wharf will take over key components of the city, as is.”
The site will include 2000 apartments, six hotels, a riverside terrace, a pedestrian bridge across the river to South Bank and a Marina Bay Sands-style, 100-metre-high sky deck with views across the river and city.
But the plan also calls for the restoration of some of Brisbane’s oldest and most valuable buildings. Notably, the Treasury Casino will get a complete makeover before being handed to the Ritz-Carlton chain to create a hotel and high-end boutique retail centre. This is one of the components “belonging to the second stage of development,” Hogg says. “[It] opens to the public in 2024.”
Hogg says “90 per cent” of the planned construction will be open to the public, with more than 50 new restaurants, bars and cafes, and gaming facilities to replace the Treasury Casino. There will be acres of shaded laneways, riverfront gardens and sub-tropical landscape all built into the space.
But Hogg reckons Queen’s Wharf isn’t a project taking place in isolation. “It’s significant as part of Brisbane’s evolution right now,” he says. “Brisbane has a lot of change going on. The city is getting another cruise terminal as well as another runway at the airport, meaning it will have the same capacity as airports like Hong Kong and Singapore.
“So it’s this evolution taking place, of which Queen’s Wharf is a part, that will help to put Brisbane on the map as a global city.”