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The Valley's' gentrification gathers momentum as Tim Gurner's $600m FV project nears completion

People & Companies / Latest News

Australia

Jun 20 2017

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Mark Westfield

As two of the three towers in Tim Gurner’s $600 million FV project near completion, it promises to accelerate the gentrification of Brisbane’s inner city Fortitude Valley. This transformation has been well under way for years, but developments such as FV and AsheMorgan’s renovation of the 1902 T.C. Beirne building in the Chinatown mall are forging dramatic changes to “The Valley”. It is a process that FV’s architect, Elenberg Fraser’s Callum Fraser, describes as “residential activation” in which Brisbane Council is preserving the entertainment areas - the bars, clubs, and late-night eateries - but aggressively encouraging an intertwining and complimentary residential development.

“The Valley is a 24-hour precinct and a significant differentiating factor for Brisbane. But it is changing from an area where people used to come from outside to enjoy the entertainment then leave, to one where the growth of residential services is attracting people to live there. The two sit side-by-side,” he says.

Says Alton Abrahams, principal at wealth manager AsheMorgan which paid $79 million 18 months ago for the 1902 T.C Beirne building and the car park and 20,000 sq m of lettable commercial and retail buildings across the mall, “Fortitude Valley is getting there, it’s gentrifying, and there’s more to come.”

Abrahams says it is interesting to compare the fortunes of Fortitude Valley with Milton to the west of the CBD, once Brisbane’s secondary office precinct. The two precincts are one train stop either side of the city. “It’s all happened in the last five years, the Valley has developed a new energy, but Milton hasn’t moved forward.

“Fortitude Valley has retained its old character, the restaurants, retail and bars, but they are better now with new operators moving in and people are wanting to live and work there.

“We’re seeing good residential projects in recent years. The character is changing, for the better.”

He says AsheMorgan saw “a fantastic opportunity” in the T.C Beirne building “to bring it back to its former glory”. Built in 1902 as a haberdashery store, it has been used and abused over the years, with a succession of owners plastering, veneering and carpeting over heritage features. AsheMorgan has spent millions on the renovation.

“We ripped off the paster and pulled up the carpet, restored the floor boards and cleaned up the building to show off the strength of the raw materials used in the original construction to recreate a stylish industrial look.”

The building’s first big tenant after the renovation has been the Queensland government which has taken up 5,200 sq m for an “innovation hub” offering space for emerging businesses from overseas or interstate to work under one roof and connect with start-ups globally. The complex reflects the type of youngish workers inhabiting the building, with smart cafes in the laneways, small bars, and smart retail shops.

FV architect Callum Fraser says developments like this and FV mean young people are moving into the area and also work there.

“FV is a bit like a hotel resort with wonderful facilities that residents share with their fellow residents. It’s a funny mix, young people looking for an active environment , and older downsizers looking for some excitement, some equity from the sale of their three-bedroom home to spend on travel, and after buying in FV, a little less maintenance.

“Even investors are becoming more choosy nowadays, preferring to buy apartments they know owner-occupiers might eventually buy from them.”

He agrees with Abrahams that the Valley has room for further change. “It’s been an amazing transformation in the Valley. In the old days you could walk up the streets during the day and the doors and windows would be closed waiting for the crowds to come in after dark. 

“The residential activation that we’re seeing is a growing population of mostly young people around the existing entertainment assets, and unlike Kings Cross which became an ‘either/or’ situation, the Valley’s population will continue to grow while remaining a lively place for tourists and residents alike.   

 “It is a one off, and the degree to which it does things differently will be the degree to which it retains its significance.”

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