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War by the shore: QCs circle as Dexus wins latest round in $2 billion Eagle St battle

Business

There has been another twist in the protracted legal battle to halt plans for a $2.1 billion redevelopment of Brisbane’s Eagle St Pier precinct.

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Developers Dexus group have won approval to build two commercial and office towers on the site of the ageing Eagle St Pier building in a massive revamp of one of the most prominent parts of the CBD.

But the project, dubbed Waterfront Brisbane and approved by Brisbane City Council last year, has attracted determined opposition from powerful quarters, including property owners in the Harry Seidler-designed Riparian Plaza building next door.

Seidler’s widow, Penelope Seidler, has said she is “horrified” by the project, while employment agency queen Sarina Russo, who owns an apartment in the Riparian building, has also objected.

Riparian Plaza’s Riverside Development argues the project violates several council development codes and the City Centre Neighbourhood Plan and the council should never have approved it.

The ensuing court battle is being closely watched given the high stakes involved.

Dexus has described Waterfront Brisbane as a “global standard business and tourist destination” that will deliver 120,000 square metres of new office space as well as an exciting dining hub, a new CityCat terminal and 280 metres of expanded riverwalk.

It will also be sited next to one of the city’s most anticipated public infrastructure projects, the new $190 million Kangaroo Point green bridge.

All three parties to the court proceedings – Dexus, Riverside Development and BCC – have retained Queens’ Counsel and show little sign of giving up the fight anytime soon.

Now, the Planning and Environment Court has thwarted a move by Riverside Development to get Dexus to hand over a “facilitation agreement” struck with the state government in 2019 involving part of the site being converted to freehold.

The deal covers about 1800 square metres of riverbed Dexus currently holds under long-term lease but which the company argues needs to be converted to freehold “to allow delivery of the masterplan”

Judge Michael Williamson found the agreement was “irrelevant” to the challenge against the proposed development and so should not be disclosed.

Dexus plans to start work on the project in 2022 with the first tower due to be completed in 2026.

 

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