BRISBANE Lord Mayor Graham Quirk last week said the revitalisation of a prime city riverside eyesore site has moved a step closer to fruition, following the selection of the successful developer for the Howard Smith Wharves Revitalisation project.
The plans include public space and parkland covering 80 per cent of the site that connects to Riverwalk, a 150-room five star boutique hotel under the Story Bridge, as well as restaurants, cafes, bars and an exhibition space.
Cr Quirk said the council undertook an extensive evaluation process to develop the 3.43 hectare site before selecting the HSW Consortium, led by Adam Flaskas and Elisha Bickle, as the preferred candidate.
"There will be magnificent public spaces and parkland to ensure residents can enjoy diverse recreational opportunities in a prime riverside location," Cr Quirk said.
"New buildings occupy only 10 per cent of the site, public space and parkland cover 80 per cent of the site with the remaining 10 per cent involving the preservation of the historic wharves."
Cr Quirk said that once complete, the site would feature pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, open turf and landscaped areas, a kayak ramp and park furniture including bike racks, seating and lighting to activate the space day and night.
"The redeveloped Howard Smith Wharves site will have direct access to the top of the cliffs via two new lifts and a flight of stairs and be in close proximity to the newly built Riverwalk and has excellent links to the CBD, Fortitude Valley, Kangaroo Point via Story Bridge and New Farm," the Lord Mayor said.
Cr Quirk said a key element of HSW Consortium's design involved incorporating the existing heritage-listed buildings into the redevelopment.
"The historic Howard Smith Wharves have been largely disused for decades and both Council and the Brisbane community wanted to ensure that any new development would give the heritage buildings a new lease of life," he said.
"The project will see these heritage buildings activated to accommodate a vibrant dining, retail and tourism centre, highlighting the area's historic importance and preserving its rich legacy for future generations."
The proposed new-look area will feature approximately 150 rooms in a five-star boutique hotel – developed and operated by Asian Pacific Group – as well as a 1,500 square metre exhibition space and an underground car park for approximately 350 vehicles.
Cr Quirk said the dynamic mix of commercial and community facilities would re-energise Howard Smith Wharves, deliver world class restaurants, cafés and bars and ensure the culturally significant precinct will serve as an inclusive space for residents and visitors alike.
"The hotel development will be designed to blend into the cliff face to ensure the iconic Story Bridge is kept as the main focus of the world class view from the city," he said.
"The majority of the hotel will be only three storeys in height and natural colours and textures will be used for the façade to ensure the structure blends into its surroundings.
"It's also important to note the ground floor of the hotel and retail development has been designed to be above the flood level of a one in 100 year flood event.
"The state of the art 1500 square metre exhibition space will open up opportunities to host exciting events such as cultural and food festivals, food and retail markets, weddings, conferences and pop-up retail spaces."
Cr Quirk said works would commence once development approval had been obtained. HSW Consortium will lodge a development application in the next 6 months and it is expected that a decision notice may be issued in the second half of 2015.
HSW Consortium will then have three years to develop the site but pedestrian and cyclist access to the newly constructed Riverwalk will be maintained while construction is under way.
Council has already undertaken cliff stabilisation works, minor repairs to the heritage buildings and constructed a 170 metre long timber wharf beneath the Story Bridge to make the area safe for public access and capture its history as a working wharf.