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    Design battle for Brisbane Queen’s Wharf casino precinct begins

    Geraldine Chua

    Greenland Group and Crown Resorts, and the Destination Brisbane Consortium, have released their design concepts for the multi-billion dollar Brisbane Queen’s Wharf Integrated Resort Development in Queensland.

    The long-awaited plans by the competing consortiums were made public in December 2014, and both propose the transformation of an under-utilised government quarter – spanning from Alice to Elizabeth Streets, and bordered by William and George Streets – into a world-class entertainment and leisure destination.

    Expressions of interest for the development were called in February 2014, with both consortiums shortlisted from an initial four and entering into the Request for Detailed proposals stage in July 2014. 

    Greenland Crown

    The Greenland Crown proposal builds on the idea of a precinct that boasts signature restaurants and bars, festivals and concerts, and an active waterfront. It includes the city’s first luxury six-star hotel and casino resort – which would outsize their proposed project at Sydney’s Barangaroo – and two new five-star hotels.

    These are to be complemented by a new sub-tropical public space that can accommodate up to 8,000 people, an interactive family water park, and Australia’s first iPic cinemas.

    A new suspended waterfall bridge to South Bank has also been proposed by the Greenland Crown consortium, with further plans to partner with the Queensland Government to construct a new South Bank theatre that can fit up to around 2,000 people and attract shows currently not coming to Brisbane.

    Images: Crown Resorts

    According to Greenland, over 3,500 new direct and indirect jobs will be created during resort construction. Other benefits include a partnership with the Brisbane Broncos and Former Origin Greats (FOGs) to deliver employment opportunities for indigenous Australians, and a new training college to provide training and long-term jobs for locals. 

    Destination Brisbane Consortium

    Destination Brisbane Consortium (Echo Entertainment Group, Far East Consortium and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises) however, has plans of its own. Its six star integrated resort proposal, designed by Cottee Parker Architects, will be located in the signature ‘Arc’ building, with 360 degree views of the city, river and the River Arena from a publicly available elevated sky deck that is inspired by the Queensland Verandah. 

    The integrated resort will also feature ball rooms, function spaces, a rooftop moonlight cinema, 12 football fields of public event space, restaurants and bars, and a new Queensland hotal and hospitality school. 

    The new casino, which will sit next to the core development area, will comprise five internationally recognised hotel brands, including a new six star brand to the market. The relocation of the current casino from the Treasury Building will also allow the heritage building to be repurposed into a shopping centre.

    Other developments include ‘The Landing’, a green wharf with a fluid series of grassy knolls and terraces that will act as the key event space for the precinct, and a beach with direct river access and river ramp for kayaks and other non-motorised craft. This space will be linked to Queens Wharf Plaza, an urban waterfront public space that can be used for large scale public celebrations or multiple simultaneous localised events.

    George Street West, with residential towers behind

    Southbank pool. Images copyright Destination Brisbane Consortium 2014

    The team expects the proposal to deliver 1.39 million additional overnight tourist visitors to Queensland each year.

    Government happy with both plans

    “Both of the proposals have certainly exceeded the government’s expectations,” said Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Jeff Seeney.

    “Whichever project is ultimately chosen by the government, Queen’s Wharf Brisbane will build on the already great places in Brisbane for locals and tourists, and include a link to Southbank via a new pedestrian bridge.

    “For too long, the previous government’s lack of imagination and drive meant the precinct’s potential was ignored and the people of Brisbane missed out on new jobs and economic opportunities.

    “This redevelopment will bring thousands of jobs to the city both in the construction phase of the project but also in tourism, retail and entertainment during the life of the new resort.”

    Seeney adds that there is still a way to go for the government and the proponents to resolve the commercial and financial aspects of their proposals, and for the stringent probity process to be finalised before the government offers a gaming license.

    “It’s important to understand that there are a range of criteria requiring assessment,” he said.

    “While we expect that the proponents design and master plan may change as a result of the detailed design phase, the proposals are well developed in terms of mass, scale, architectural features and public realm.”

    A decision on the preferred proponent is expected to be made in the first half of 2015. 

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