Japanese continue push into Queensland

An artist’s impression of the proposed $900 million Sekisui House development at Coolum.
An artist’s impression of the proposed $900 million Sekisui House development at Coolum.

Japanese development giant Seki­sui House is forging ahead with $3.7 billion of works in southeast Queensland, including its controversial Brisbane and Sunshine Coast developments.

The Tokyo and Osaka-listed company — among the world’s biggest residential builders — is set to launch its $800 million West Village mixed-use development in Brisbane’s West End and is ­pursuing its $900 million hotel and residential complex at Yaroomba Beach, near Coolum on the Sunshine Coast.

It is also beginning construction of its $1.5 billion ­Ipswich development, Ripley Valley Town Centre, with the appointment of Hutchinson Builders for the $40 million retail first stage.

Commercial Insights: Subscribe to receive the latest news and updates

Japanese developers have ­refocused on Australia, with Mitsubishi Estate, Daisho, Obayahi and Daiwa announcing acquisitions or partnerships.

In southeast Queensland, following five years of negotiations including Planning and Environment Court hearings, and local opposition, ­Sekisui House is accelerating its plans for construction.

We have a robust view of the Queensland marketplace in the long-term

Managing director and chief executive Toru Abe says the ­Ipswich and Brisbane launches herald the firm’s “ongoing commitment” to the region over the coming decade.

“We have a robust view of the Queensland marketplace in the long-term,” he says. “Sekisui House is making a significant investment in southeast Queensland, a region that we ­believe holds great potential.”

Even so the expansion comes amid concerns over the nation’s frothy apartment building market. Residential building approvals have been almost 50 per cent higher than their long-term average over the past two years, spurred on by low interest rates.

In its quarterly economic update on Friday, the RBA warned the surge in inner-city ­Melbourne and Brisbane apartment developments in recent years had increased risks of settlement failures.

The number of apartment blocks with four or more storeys now contributes about a third of total building approvals, up from 10% in 2010, the RBA said. It has coincided with a lift in borrowing by investors to an annual rate of 6.2% economy wide.

Sekisui has faced strident community opposition to its planned $800 million overhaul of the former Peter’s ice cream factory in Brisbane’s West End. In November, Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad announced the 1250-apartment complex could include towers up to 22 storeys — taller than the original design — but had to incorporate more green and public space, after state authorities took control of site planning from Brisbane City Council.

The government decision cannot be appealed.

On the Sunshine Coast, a proposed $900m resort has returned to community consultation, after it was refused by the local council last year.

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.