Singapore buyer picks up Brisbane’s Edison Exchange building

The 10-storey Edison building on Elizabeth St next to the rear of the GPO next in the Brisbane CBD. Picture: Supplied.
The 10-storey Edison building on Elizabeth St next to the rear of the GPO next in the Brisbane CBD. Picture: Supplied.

The historic Edison Exchange building in Brisbane’s CBD has been snared by Singapore-based investment manager Firmus Capital for $57 million.

Its acquisition comes after Firmus faced stiff competition from rivals to buy the complex from Telstra.

The site at 280 Elizabeth St has a 140-year history as the city’s telecommunications hub and opened as Brisbane’s first manually operated telephone exchange in 1880, with 175 telephone services becoming available around the clock three years later. Keeping up with the times, it switched to an automated service in 1929.

Commercial Insights: Subscribe to receive the latest news and updates

But now the historic property could become the site of new office project once the telco’s lease expires in six years.

Construction on the current building began in 1963, creating a new 10-storey telephone exchange servicing central Brisbane, as well as commercial office space for Telstra.

Positioned in the city’s “Golden Triangle”, it generated significant interest from local and offshore purchasers, including leading institutional investors, when it was put on the market in February.

Knight Frank’s head of institutional sales Justin Bond, who brokered the sale with fellow agent Matt Barker, described the expressions of interest campaign as an extremely competitive process.

“We were inundated with interest from private to institutional investors from all parts of the world, attracted by the rare opportunity to secure a premium site with future redevelopment potential in the heart of Brisbane CBD,” he says.

Charter Keck Cramer advised Telstra through the process.

“The sale of Edison Exchange will likely activate a previously under-utilised strategic CBD site, which could evolve into a premium office and retail development.”

A six-year leaseback to Telstra was part of the purchase package, securing an income from the prime 1,670 sqm office block as Firmus considers the redevelopment opportunities for the site which has three attractive street frontages.

It is the second purchase for the firm in the Brisbane CBD, creating almost $200 million in investments over the past 12 months.

In June last year, Firmus purchased a 24-storey investment grade office building at 127 Creek St. The firm also has substantial commercial real estate investments in Sydney and Perth.

The Queensland government has instigated a significant infrastructure boost to the Brisbane CBD, including the construction of the $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf precinct and $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project, both of which will be in walking distance to the site.

This article originally appeared on