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Sarina Russo takes aim at $2 billion development for threatening her view

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Sarina Russo has raised concerns about the $2 billion Waterfront Brisbane project, that may affect views from her multi-million-dollar luxury apartment, and wants council to get tougher on the developer behind it.

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The Dexus group has applied to build two towers of 49 storeys and 43 storeys, with a combined 120,000 square metres of office space, on the site of the 30-year-old Eagle Street Pier. The project is known as Waterfront Brisbane.

If approved by Brisbane City Council, work would commence in 2022, requiring that section of the Riverwalk to be closed for two years and the first tower completed by 2026. The second tower would not be built for some time and likely be left as public and retail space.

The Palaszczuk Government provided land to Dexus to support the project, which outgoing State Development Minister Kate Jones described as a form of economic stimulus during the recession.

But the scale of the development has drawn criticism, partly for the lack of public space, and Dexus may even force Brisbane’s riverboats out of the city. The Liberal-led Brisbane City Council is considering the development application.

In a letter from her lawyer to the council, Russo echoed the concerns of stakeholders in neighbouring Riparian Plaza, where she has a luxury apartment. She said that if Waterfront Brisbane was approved and constructed according to current plans, the towers would be less than 15 metres apart and views would be impeded.

Russo suggested council hold the Waterfront Brisbane project to a higher standard, and greater scrutiny, than other developments.

“Given the position of the development in the epicentre of activity within Brisbane, located on the pier in a time honoured locality, such a (development application) should be reviewed to be held to a higher assessment criterion reflective of its importance to our city landscape,” Russo wrote.

“As an owner-director of a CBD building opposition as well as two others within a one kilometre radius of the proposed development, I support development in the name of progress.

“However, the subject plans constitute an overdevelopment of the site relative to the locality’s positioning, streetscape and needs.”

Over the past two years, Russo, through her company Sarina Russo Job Access, has donated to the Liberal National Party, Labor, and Katter’s Australian Party, most recently giving $10,000 to Labor last month. The Brisbane rich-lister has also served on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s business advisory committee.

Russo said the current plans made “improper use of the Brisbane River leasehold site that the Queensland State Government has granted to Dexus” and suggested public objections may be limited due to Dexus having a “geographical monopoly”.

“It is worth noting that Riparian Plaza is the only property adjoining the subject development, or indeed in the immediate facility, that is not owned or controlled by Dexus,” Russo said.

The project has engulfed both levels of government, partly because the Brisbane River is deemed a state asset. The fate of the riverboats that have long graced that stretch of river remains unclear.

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