Walker scraps Brisbane apartments for office tower

An artist’s impression of Walker’s tower at 801 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley.

Lang Walker has won approval for a 26-storey commercial tower in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley after scrapping plans for twin towers housing 433 apartments. 

Walker Corporation was previously given the green light to build the high-rise unit blocks at 801 Ann St, but changed the approval in response to the oversupply of residential apartments.

Queensland manager Peter Saba says the $400 million commercial building will cover 44,000sqm of net lettable area and have large flexible floorplates of about 2000sqm.

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“We are in discussions with a range of major corporate clients seeking A-grade office space in the heart of the lively, creative hub of Fortitude Valley,” Saba says.

“Our whole-of-block building is expected to house 5000 workers and feature a soaring, light-filled lobby adorned with works of art and spaces to bring the outdoors inside.”

Located close to trendy James St and Fortitude Valley Railway Station, the five green star-rating building is expected to be completed in 2020.

Saba says the timing will work well in terms of finding a tenant. “When you look around 2020-21, there are some big tenants whose leases are coming up for renewal,” he says.

“The government is believed to be looking for new space over the next five years as well.” Research by professional services firm JLL shows the vacancy rate for prime grade office space in Brisbane fell to 10.4% at the end of last year, the lowest level in two years.

The report suggested jobs growth and a stable economy would only serve to increase demand for office space, in Australia’s major cities.

Saba says they stand by the decision to go down the commercial path at 801 Ann St, rather than residential. “It will be a big, iconic building in a brilliant ­location,” Saba says.

It is not the first Walker Corporation project to have a change of use, after the developer switched a proposed residential tower at Parramatta Square in Sydney to commercial and retail space.

Walker Corporation is also developing industrial estates near Ipswich, west of Brisbane, and residential developments in the inner suburb of Milton and the Queensland city of Gladstone.

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