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Golden Triangle Report

MARCH 2014

Significant Gains in Golden Triangle Market The Golden Triangle of Indooroopilly confirmed its blue chip status over the spring selling season with some outstanding results. My last report noted reduced turnover and decreased sales activity in the top end of the market, but on the back of rising confidence I have good news to report. We have also prepared a story for you regarding the Indooroopilly Bridge. Walter Taylor was a visionary. He put a ballroom in a bridge! Long disused, it sits idle and off limits in the Chelmer pylon of his landmark Indooroopilly bridge. Opening the opposite pylon for free guided tours recently was a great initiative. But the bridge could be so much more.

Indooroopilly’s closest business precinct Toowong is about to get the kiss of life.It is undoubtedly one of Brisbane’s best locations. Yet for the last decade or so, the mood in Toowong has been decidedly sombre. Its usual optimism and energy have been buried under a pile of economic uncertainty. At last we can confidently declare Toowong’s resurrection. Finally, Dixon Family Estate Agents have just been named Queensland’s Small Residential Agency of the Year in the 2014 REIQ awards for Excellence. The awards are judged on professionalism and best practice, so it’s a credit to our very talented and dedicated team.

A plan by Indooroopilly golf club to sell land along Harts Road will not go ahead after the proposal failed to gain sufficient members support. Read more about the clubs proposed land swap with the Council on page 5. Please give us your feedback on the issues raised in these pages. To let us know what you think, and suggest topics you would like to see covered go to our blog at

In this edition 628 Coronation Drive, Toowong Qld 4066 PHONE 07 3870 2251 FAX 07 3870 5674

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Strong Spring Selling Season Highlights: Lights, Camera, Action: The $2M plus price bracket put on a show from September to January with 5 properties selling between $2.3 and $2.9 million. If we look back to the spring of 2008 when the market was ‘peaking’ the golden triangle only recorded three $2M plus sales in the same spring selling period.

Highest Demand: In my last report I spoke of high demand in the $800,000 to $1,000,000 price band.

A strong finish to the year has seen the $1M to $1.5M bracket make up over 35% of the sales in the Golden Triangle area. The lower end of the market is now very strong and I am confident we are seeing this push into the higher end of the market.

Days on Market: With reduced stock available to buyers the Days on Market has reduced from 95 to 74. Another sign of a healthy real estate market.

Want to boogie in Walter Taylor’s ballroom? 2014 Predictions: Increased turnover in the higher price brackets, shortage of stock and historically low interest rates are all pointing to a brighter year ahead. Confidence is now returning to both the stock market and real estate market which should fuel buyers hunger to upgrade their homes.

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Walter Taylor was a visionary. He put a ballroom in a bridge! But he didn’t stop there. Taylor also thought a bridge should have a kiosk, and a boathouse. And he threw in a couple of apartments for good measure. Sounds like a brilliant riverfront venue, doesn’t it? I bet you’d jump at the chance to book this unique Indooroopilly facility for your next big event or party.

Let’s restore Taylor’s remarkable dream Brisbane’s Walter Taylor Bridge is an amazing and unique community asset that remains seriously underutilised. Its designer - builder, whose name it bears, was one of Brisbane’s most enterprising figures, a man of vision and drive who would doubtless be very sorry to see its potential wasted. Taylor built so many of our landmarks – the ornate Presbyterian Church on Wickham Terrace, Invicta House in Edward Street, buildings at BBC, Churchie and Somerville House, and the Sherwood and Graceville Methodist Churches among them. But his crowning achievement was the suspension bridge (Australia’s longest) from Indooroopilly to Chelmer, a vital link to Ipswich so integral to Brisbane’s progress. Opened in 1936, the Indooroopilly Toll Bridge, was testament to Taylor’s foresight and perseverance. Undaunted when the cash-strapped government of the day wouldn’t fund his grand plan, he formed a private company, chased down investors and built it anyway. Just goes to show how private initiative can make things happen when governments can’t. Private business nous is once again needed to restore Walter Taylor’s vision. Back in mid-2011, we wrote to both Brisbane City Council and Brisbane Marketing with the idea of reinstating the Chelmer pylon as an exciting and unique leisure destination. Its huge space known as ‘the ballroom’,

complete with balcony out to the river, would be a stunning reception and function venue, and the site is perfect for a restaurant, kiosk and boat landing facilities. Upstairs the quirky apartment space should welcome people once again. Guests – international visitors, romantic locals, adventurous honeymooners would no doubt pay handsomely for this one-of-a-kind overnight experience with unbelievable river views! Even Walter Taylor’s grandson backed the idea, saying it was “brilliant”, that he “couldn’t think of anything better than the bridge pylon being returned to accommodation and leisure use” which, after all, is what it was designed for. But we got the bureaucratic brush-off. Then, a few months later, go-getting Walter Taylor Ward Councilor Julian Simmonds launched a public consultation exercise, to canvas what people would really like to see happen with the bridge. They obviously wanted access, because late last year we saw the introduction of free tours of the Indooroopilly pylon, which also contains an apartment that was occupied by the former toll keepers and, until 2010, their descendants. Council spent $150,000 tidying up the old flat and making it safe and presentable for public access. The tours are a great idea, and volunteer Brisbane Greeters do a fantastic job telling people about this wonderful bridge’s intriguing history. I definitely recommend you take a tour. But, so far, nothing further is planned. So, the Chelmer pylon remains idle and off limits. One objection to my plan from Council was parking limitations. Surely that could be overcome. Is parking even needed? Look at Peats Bite on the Hawkesbury River, a legendry water access only property renowned for its long relaxed luncheons and live entertainment. It also has a few selfcontained units and is highly sought as a wedding venue. No roads. No parking. Only boats!

Our Chelmer pylon is within walking distance of a railway station and, if ever there is a role for water taxis, this is it. In fact, a venue in the Walter Taylor Bridge would seem to tick all the boxes in Council’s new River’s Edge Strategy (RES), a document whose whole purpose is to “encourage residents, commercial enterprises and tourists to make better use of the Brisbane River and its edges.” The RES seeks to facilitate new recreation and social opportunities on the river, especially more riverside eating and drinking establishments, increase the number of boat landings and shortterm berths for pleasure boats, enable water taxis, and encourage publicprivate partnerships. BINGO! We have actually flagged the pylon project with some of the very successful operators who currently run venues in partnership with council, and they would love to run the ruler over this one. Let’s be ambitious … let’s be creative … grasp this opportunity. Australia had never before seen anything like Walter Taylor’s bridge, and has not seen the like of it since. We shouldn’t waste this unique treasure. We should share it for the benefit of Brisbane and all who enjoy our town. Cr. Simmonds will need your support to get such an exciting project off the ground. So, if you can see its merit, please drop him a line. Email him at, or via his website


Ballroom Kiosk

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Toowong graveyard no more Toowong is about to get the kiss of life. It is undoubtedly one of Brisbane’s best locations. Yet for the last decade or so, the mood in Toowong has been decidedly sombre. Its usual optimism and energy have been buried under a pile of economic uncertainty. At last we can confidently declare Toowong’s resurrection.

Major investment triggers big Toowong turnaround TOOWONG, gateway to Brisbane’s affluent western suburbs, is on the brink of impressive growth. Major investment in key catalyst projects is triggering a pronounced turnaround after a decade of stalled development. If you tallied up all major residential and commercial developments planned or underway at this point in Toowong central alone, the value would probably be close to a billion dollars. That is a massive injection directly into its heart. Topping the list are Sunland’s plans for a riverfront residential enclave on the 1.5ha former ABC site it bought for $20 million, and Yu Feng’s $50

million refurbishment of Toowong Village shopping centre. Keenly awaited is news from Stockland about a major mixed-use development on their linchpin 1.4ha site fronting Sherwood Road, where major tenant Woolworths has been on a casual tenancy for some time. Their 2007 plan for the large-scale commercial, retail and apartments project was mothballed when the GFC took hold. Despite Toowong’s close proximity to the city and outstanding transport, education and employment infrastructure, it stalled with the loss of the ABC and no major projects going ahead for many years. While other inner suburbs like Newstead, New Farm, South Brisbane and Bulimba saw an explosion of lifestyle offerings, Toowong missed out on the rejuvenation that comes with quality social infrastructure development. So now we have high pent-up demand in an area that has been one of Brisbane’s most enticing social and business hubs since the original ‘Village of Toowong’ subdivision first attracted an elite upper-middle class population in 1865.


No sale of golf club land

Local commercial agency principal Peter Tewksbury agrees that location and lifestyle are the primary drivers of the new development wave. “These drawcards are just as vital for commercial growth as residential,” he said. “Staff amenity is incredibly important for businesses who want to attract and keep good management and staff.”

Toowong is a dynamic urban centre with compelling attributes, not the least of which is the Brisbane River. It is a transport hub with rail, bus and ferry, and has excellent pedestrian, cycle and road access. It is close to UQ, has many education choices including BBC and Stuartholme, and boasts the vast Wesley Hospital medical precinct.

A plan by Indooroopilly Golf Club to sell surplus land in Harts Road for residential development will not go ahead, after the proposal failed to gain sufficient member support.

The project to transform Toowong Village into a high-end fashion and food destination will add a new premium alfresco dining strip, ground floor market setting, and luxurious fashion and homeware boutiques to the recent David Jones upgrade.

Toowong links the affluent western suburbs to the city, and this new wave of development will now provide exciting restaurants, cafes, and high end shopping, as well as new residential options for this large, wellto-do population.

The club had hoped to negotiate with Brisbane City Council to swap part of its land, not currently in use, for some council land, and then sell the resulting parcel to a developer.

And while Sunland, creator of Palazzo Versace and Q1 on the Gold Coast, is yet to unveil plans for the old ABC site, the prime holding will accommodate several upmarket, multi-storey residential buildings.

Apartment developments leading the lift include Aspect on Benson, now under construction and almost 80% pre-sold, and the 136-unit 38 High Street launched off-the-plan by Serra Property Group.

The Toowong Auchenflower Neighbourhood Plan also assures it will open up extensive riverfront parklands and retain and reuse historic Middenbury House.

Wealthy baby-boomers ready to downsize from areas like Fig Tree Pocket, Brookfield, Pullenvale, Chelmer and Indooroopilly, plus their adult children and a growing business and professional workforce mean Toowong urgently needs more quality new residential offerings.

Council’s neighbourhood plan, which came into effect in mid-2012, is critical to the suburb’s renewal because it has lifted density and now allows up to 25 storeys on large sites in the central precinct.

According to a Courier Mail report (Feb 5, 2014), the golf club was expecting to realise at least $5.25 million for the site, which could yield 12 to 15 residential allotments. Members were told the club would use the money to “retire its debt and then retain approximately $1.5 million in an emergency (fund) in case of flood, fire or any other natural disaster.”

But, at an extraordinary general meeting on February 25, the club was unable to secure the 75 per cent majority members’ support required under its constitution. While it is understood the plan did have the support of a majority of members, without the prescribed level of backing, the motion to pursue the deal was not carried. The Courier Mail had also reported the club wanted to use some of the money raised through the sale for “future development of the course and clubhouse including the construction of a new golf hole to replace a current hole.” So, Hole 6, with its fairway running along Harts Road, will remain the same. And a planned $1.3 million upgrade of the Thomas Park Bougainvillea Gardens that the club was going to build into the land deal, will also now not go ahead.

Peter Tewksbury says Toowong’s office market consistently fairs better than other areas and now has one of the city’s lowest vacancy rates at well under 10 per cent. New commercial projects include 66 High Street, a 13-storey, 13,000sq m A-grade office building now under construction, and a 16-level office building by Property Solutions approved for 48-52 Jephson Street. “Activity has really picked up,” he said. “Last year, I sold 55 Sherwood Road, which houses the Commonwealth Bank, St George Bank and Toowong Dental, for $11.75 million to a Chinese syndicate that has serious plans for Toowong. “The Westpac Bank has just sold to a private investor for $2.4 million, and bids just closed on properties for sale next door to Stockland’s site at 34 and 40 Sherwood Road, which could take a 25-storey building if amalgamated.”

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Small family agency the state’s best Little more than two years since launching, Toowongbased Dixon Family Estate Agents has won its third major industry accolade, this time taking out the REIQ 2014 Small Residential Agency of the Year award. The boutique agency of father and son team Patrick and Jack Dixon beat seven other category finalists to be named the best business of its kind in the state in the 2014 REIQ Awards for Excellence. It caps an award-winning run for the partners after the younger Dixon won the 2013 REIQ Rookie of the Year Award, and went on to take out the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s highest accolade for young real estate professionals, the 2013 REIA Achievement Award. Now they will head to Tasmania next month (March 2014) as finalists in the REIA National Awards for Excellence, to be held at Hobart’s acclaimed Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). “Patrick and I are building our agency on the philosophy that quality in all

things comes first, so the REIQ Small Residential Agency of the Year award is a tremendous endorsement and encouragement,” Jack Dixon said. “To take out the industry’s top award in this category, recognising professionalism and best practice, so soon after establishing our business is particularly gratifying.” Dixon senior is a doyen of Brisbane real estate who for many years operated an agency that was a prestige and riverfront market leader and won multiple industry awards. Patrick Dixon sold that agency in 2006, to pursue other interests, but the Dixon name returned to real estate in 2011 when son Jack put aside a promising legal career to join him in opening the new family business. “Leaving the law to stake my future on real estate was a huge step,” the younger Dixon said.

“Studying law at UQ and then practising in commercial and property law with leading firm Hopgood Ganim gave me invaluable grounding and experience. “But I’d been surrounded by real estate practice all my life and it was where I really wanted to be. “Taking the Dixon name forward in real estate is extremely important to me,” he said. “My goal is to build our office into Brisbane’s most respected independent agency, famous for its service, integrity and relationships with clients and staff. “The 2014 REIQ Agency of the Year award reaffirms that we are heading in the right direction.” The REIA National Awards for Excellence will be announced in Hobart on March 20.

Golden Triangle Report March 2014