It is unnecessary for the Queensland Government to be a major owner of CBD property, as it can lease space as necessary, and it is possible that the Government has located public servants in CBD offices who may be more cost-effectively located in other areas. Hence I’m very pleased to read about the Government’s new master plan for the CBD in the Courier-Mail today (Newman’s plan for Brisbane CBD):
The first phase of the CBD masterplan could see one, and possibly two, major office towers built on Crown land in William St by private enterprise and leased back by the state.
Several rundown state buildings in George St and William St would be sold or demolished – including the Executive Building, the premier’s headquarters.
There would be a new pedestrian plaza in front of Parliament House on Alice St and a riverside boardwalk with leisure and entertainment facilities, plus a cultural hub built under and over the Southeast Freeway.
By selling CBD properties to the private sector, the Government will get much needed cash that it can use to pay off debt. I expect it will get a special deal from private sector developers on a rent-free period for the new office buildings that will push back the eventual budgetary cost of renting the office space.
My only concern regarding the plan is the potentially very costly riverside boardwalk, which is likely to be under-utilised. Being right next to the freeway, it would be in an unattractive location. And it will be a direct competitor to Southbank, which is now a well-established destination for families. The boardwalk will be smaller than Southbank and I doubt it will attract many people on the weekends.