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Another delay on the cards for long-planned Regent office tower

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Plans to build a 40-storey commercial office tower on one of the most prominent sites in Brisbane’s CBD look set to again be put on hold thanks largely to the upheaval Covid-19 has had on the office market.

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Industry Superannuation Property Trust, developers of the long-mooted Regent Tower on Elizabeth St, have asked for yet another extension of their development approval, first granted in 2010.

The company wants Brisbane City Council to extend the approval extended another four years, citing the changes Covid has brought to the commercial office market as well as the need to fit in with the new city plan and the 2032 Olympics.

The development approval, already extended twice, was due to expire in April this year. The new extension would mean the Elizabeth St site would remain vacant until construction was expected to begin on the project sometime in 2023.

The proposed tower, which will link through to the Wintergarden on the Queen St Mall, has attracted its fair share of controversy, particularly given it paved the way for the demolition of the building that housed the historic Regent Theatre.

It was shortlisted for Suncorp’s new Brisbane headquarters but missed out to Mirvac’s development at 80 Ann St.

Documents supporting the application say the proposed development remains compliant with the existing City Centre Neighbourhood Plan, but argue more time is needed to ensure it complies with the need for “flexible workplaces” envisaged by the council’s revitalisation strategy for the city centre.

“The approved development remains highly compliant with the specific assessment benchmarks of the Retail precinct within the CCNP, in particular enhancing the sites relationship with Queen Street Mall, respecting the existing historic Regent theatre building and providing activated and pedestrian-friendly retail frontages,” a letter to council from consultants Place Design Group says.

It also argues that the Covid-19 pandemic has “had a significant impact on the commercial office market in Brisbane and has initiated significant changes to the role and function of commercial office buildings”.

“These changes to the operations of the tenants and businesses have resulted in a strong shift in best practice commercial building design,” it says.

 

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