Long gone are the days when Brisbane was thought of as a big country town, relegated to bronze medal in the eyes of our southern siblings. Our river city has always been a great place to live, but Brisbane has been elbowing its way on to the list of cosmopolitan global cities for more than a decade. It’s how we think of Brisbane now, and it’s how others think of us.
With a skyline perpetually peppered with cranes, Brisbane is approaching zenith with scape-changing projects both public and private, due for completion by 2025. Promising heightened economic outlook, better mobility, and increased lifestyle opportunities for all, these are the expansive builds that are transforming our city right now.
Modern Transport Infrastructure
These key transport infrastructure projects will act as the backbone for some of the exciting developments below. Combined, the aim is to drastically improve how people move about the city, and further afield.
Cross River Rail – now tunnelling
Ground was broken late last year on the state government’s Cross River Rail project and has continued apace throughout the COVID-19 crisis. At completion, Queensland’s largest infrastructure project will connect four new underground stations; Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street.
The ambitious project will see the addition of 10.2 kilometres of rail line crossing the river via twin tunnels. Cross River Rail will deliver more trains more often, open up mobility and growth opportunities in the CBD, and deliver a fatal blow to some languishing infrastructure, such as the neglected Transit Centre.
On May 14, 2020 tunnelling officially began with a giant roadheader roaring to life in the tunnel section of the project’s Roma Street site. A roadheader is a 22 metre long, 115 tonne, tunnel boring machine that can excavate up to 50 tonnes of rock and soil per hour. A second roadheader, made by Queensland family-owned company QMW, will begin work at Roma Street later this year.
Albert Street Station will become a key connection within the CBD and serve as a much more central location for commuters than Central Station. Across the river, an expansive lot neighbouring the Gabba grounds is set to feature a sizable underground station with hints of ground level and surrounding development plans of up to 30 storeys. This improved connection to the Gabba has also been touted to coincide with upgrades to the stadium and is due for completion in 2024. When complete, a trip from Albert Street to The Gabba will take around three minutes.
2020 is the year we’ll see a major uptick in works. Cross River Rail Delivery Authority CEO Graeme Newton announced construction would more than double this year adding up to 11 new worksites to the seven currently underway.
“2019 was a big year for the project. We appointed our major contractors, established multiple new worksites, revealed the location of three new Gold Coast stations and launched a Precincts Delivery Strategy that will be the catalyst for up to $20 billion of investment,” he said.
“But 2020 is where things really kick up a gear. We’ll complete demolition at Roma St and Albert St, start tunneling from Woolloongabba to Boggo Road, start work on station upgrades and the new Gold Coast stations and we will have workers live on the project at as many as 18 sites across the city.”
Demolition across the Roma Street site is picking up pace with the old Hotel Jen building disappearing at a rate of one floor a week. Early demolition works have already started on one of Brisbane’s least loved buildings, the Brisbane Transit Centre.
Estimated completion: Cross River Rail will be operational in 2024.
Brisbane Metro – they’re buses, but not as we know them
Testing has begun on Brisbane City Council’s Metro project, which aims to replace current 62-seat buses by deploying 60 fully-electric vehicles to deliver more streamlined, congestion-free busways. If effective, we can expect these services to expand.
Metro vehicles, which look a lot like trams, have zero tailpipe emissions, USB charging points and WiFi on board, and are capable of carrying 150 people (or 180 people in event mode).
The goal of Brisbane Metro is to vastly improve our commute. Council estimates the Metro will get us home in half the time we’ve grown used to, with peak services every three minutes and 24 hour service on weekends.
Estimated completion: Brisbane Metro services are expected to commence in late 2023
Brisbane Green Bridges – unlocking the city
Council has bold plans for five new green bridges which are designed to ease movement between key suburbs within the inner-ring. The pedestrian bridges will connect with public transport and shared-use bikeways. Bridges with the greatest impact will join Kangaroo Point and the CBD, Toowong and West End, and West End to St Lucia. There are crossings proposed at Breakfast Creek and Bellbowrie.
Council recently updated MyBrisbane stating The Kangaroo Point and Breakfast Creek bridges will be the first delivered. Kangaroo Point will connect the corner of Alice and Edward Streets in the CBD to Scott Street in Kangaroo Point foreshore. Breakfast Creek will straddle the mouth of Breakfast Creek, opening a fast lane from the northern suburbs to the CBD. The Breakfast Creek Green Bridge will also presumably connect the new Lores Bonney Riverwalk.
Estimated completion: There is no estimated completion for the green bridges. The project is currently undergoing technical investigations and community consultation. The timeline states construction on the first bridge could commence in 2021 with completion expected by 2024.
Brisbane Airport Second Runway
Brisbane Airport Corporation’s (BAC) new runway project is a key piece of infrastructure that will supercharge Brisbane and the state with an estimated $5 billion economic benefit per year. And it’s practically complete.
Building a second Brisbane runway may sound like simple a task, but it’s actually the largest aviation construction project in the country. The Runway site is 360 hectares in area (that’s more than twice the size of Brisbane CBD), is 3.3 kilometres long, 60 metres wide, and has 12 kilometres of taxiways.
The long-planned runway started construction in 2012 and represents a $1.3 billion investment that will give Brisbane the most efficient runway system in the country. It will double the current capacity and deliver future-proof air travel for residents and visitors.
On April 30, BAC announced the practical completion of Brisbane’s new runway. BAC CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff said while today marked the end of the project, it was just the beginning for Brisbane Airport.
“In many respects this runway is symbolic of the very firm belief we have that aircraft will, in the not too distant future, return to the skies and our terminals will once again be full of happy people looking forward to visiting their families, their holidays or to travel to do business,” Mr de Graaff said.
Sadly, the decision has now been made to cancel the celebratory community events planned for the opening of Brisbane’s new runway later this year. The Community Day and Runway Fun Run planned for June has been cancelled due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and public health directives from Government regarding public gathering restrictions.
Brisbane Airport remains open in a heavily reduced capacity delivering essential services to the people of Brisbane and Queensland. Mr de Graaff said Brisbane’s new runway remains on track for completion later this year and details of its official opening will be advised.
“We will be here when this is over to once again connect people across the country and world and play our part in helping restore the economic health of our city and state,” Mr de Graaff said.
The new runway came in under budget at $1.1 billion, a saving of $200 million on initial estimates. While practically complete, the project will undergo testing for operational readiness.
Estimated Completion: Complete. Brisbane’s new runway will open on Sunday, 12 July 2020.
Brisbane International Cruise Terminal
It remains to be seen if cruising will still be enjoying its recent popularity surge, post COVID-19. Nevertheless, the $177 million Brisbane International Cruise Terminal is due for completion mid-year.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited the site at the outset of the crisis, hailing the project for delivering jobs and a new economic stream that within 20 years, could deliver 760,000 visitors annually, who would contribute $1.3 billion in net expenditure into the Brisbane economy.
“The financial benefits will be felt up and down the state’s coast, particularly as Queensland Government aims to increase total passenger numbers throughout the state to more than a million a year,” the Premier said.
The new cruise terminal at Luggage Point is purpose-built to accommodate some of the world’s largest cruise ships. The current terminal at Portside cannot facilitate some of the more modern ships due to height restrictions of the Gateway Bridge.
“This is a purpose-built facility to suit the cruise industry. We’ve worked very closely with the cruise lines and other stakeholders from the start of the process to ensure it delivers a seamless experience for travellers starting or finishing their journeys,” Port of Brisbane CEO, Roy Cummins said.
“The terminal’s location – at the mouth of the Brisbane River with access to deep water – means it will be able to handle all visiting cruise ships, including the largest cruise ships in the world,” Port of Brisbane CEO, Roy Cummins said.
Estimated Completion: Although cruise ships were officially banned from entering Queensland waters on Tuesday April 17, the first ship set to berth at the new terminal will be P&O’s Pacific Dawn, on Saturday, October 3rd.
The city-changing $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf development will be one of the largest and most exciting additions to Brisbane in its history. The enormous project covers 12 hectares of land and will add a new pedestrian bridge across to South Bank, 2000 apartments, over 1000 hotel rooms and a 1000 seat ballroom as part of the entertainment precinct.
With plenty of new bars, more than 50 new restaurants, exciting public spaces and world class retail, the project is positioned to welcome over 1.3 million patrons each year.
Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development is being delivered by Destination Brisbane Consortium – a joint venture led by The Star Entertainment Group alongside its Hong Kong-based partners, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Far East Consortium
Once COVID-19 restrictions ease, you can explore the future of Brisbane at Queen’s Wharf’s state-of-the-art visitor centre in the CBD. Open to the public Monday – Friday, on the corner of George and Alice Streets, the visitor centre contains an interactive 3D model of the development including the surrounding CBD and South Bank areas, a virtual reality Sky Deck experience, a local area history exhibit and photo booth that places you inside the finished development. Above the visitors centre, by appointment only, you can visit a luxury display suite for apartments in the first residential tower.
As we reported earlier, construction is still on track with heavy vehicle restriction relaxed. As to the impact of COVID-19 on this important build, Project Director Simon Crooks told My Brisbane:
“For now, the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane project is continuing as planned with no delays on-site. I am however aware that this is a constantly changing environment and we will continue to monitor and adapt as needed.”
Estimated Completion: Queen’s Wharf stage one developments are due to open in 2022 and the project’s first residential tower due for completion in 2023.
Brisbane Live is a major revitalisation project that will transform the underutilised Roma Street corner of the CBD into a major entertainment precinct.
The project ties in closely with the Cross River Rail Roma Street Precinct by perching an 18,000 capacity arena above the Roma Street Rail Precinct. Brisbane Live will host concerts, sporting events and is cited as future proofing major entertainment in the city, superseding the aging Boondall Entertainment Centre .
This modern arena will also be a major selling point for Brisbane as we bid to host the 2032 Olympic Games. The state government recently announced they are seeking partners for the project, however, locals are excited about the prospect of Brisbane Live going ahead.
Estimated completion: Planning for Brisbane Live is progressing, though no estimated completion date has been announced.
QPAC’s New Theatre – brand new brutalism
Despite the clunky working acronym, NPAV (New Performing Arts Venue) will be constructed alongside Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) on the Playhouse Green. The Green, on the corner of Grey and Russell Streets, is the only section of undeveloped land in the brutalist arts precinct.
NPAV adds another large capacity venue to QPAC, which currently schedules over 1,300 performances annually recording an attendance of 1.5 million people in 2017/18. NPAV will have a maximum seating capacity of 1,521 and the state government hopes to host over 300,000 patrons at 260 performances in the new theatre.
In 2019, Architect Blight Rayner + Snøhetta won the tender to design QPAC’s fifth theatre. The concepts are world class and respect the precinct’s original design by Robin Gibson. With the addition of NPAV, QPAC will be the largest performing arts centre in Australia.
In May last year the Queensland Government announced it would invest $125 million into the project to meet the growing demand for a new venue and in turn, strengthen Brisbane’s cultural offerings. Lendlease were announced as managing contractor last year, with early works and construction due to begin this year.
Estimated completion: Early works have begun. The New Performing Arts Venue is currently targeted for completion in 2022.
Victoria Parklands – expanding urban
One of the most exciting proposals to be announced in 2019 was the Victoria Park redevelopment. The proposed Oasis in the middle of the city will span 45 hectares – that’s three times the size of South Bank. Victoria Park will become a natural retreat, an urban park for adventure, discovery and re-connection.
With its modern design reflecting the natural Queensland landscape, Victoria Park promises suspended canopy walk, cultural hubs, bushland pockets for exploring and waterholes for splashing and even lagoon for swimming and water-based recreation like kayaking.
Still in planning and consultation, thousands of ideas have been submitted from interested locals. In order of most wanted; responders are seeking native gardens, trees, and shade followed by all age activities, playgrounds, shelters, barbecues and water features.
Council is yet to release the final version of this plan, but seek to share something by mid this year. The existing mini-golf, events space and driving range will not be affected by the project.
Estimated completion: There is no estimated completion for this project. Council will release their final Victoria Park Vision mid-year.
The Landing – facing up to South Bank
The Landing is set to rival its cross-river opponent South Bank. Currently emerging from the north side of the river as part of the Queen’s Wharf development, The Landing will cover 6,500m2 (more than twice the size of King George Square), suspended above the Brisbane River. At its widest point the new public space will reach 50 metres into Brisbane River, with the river flowing naturally underneath.
Destination Brisbane Consortium Project Director Simon Crooks said The Landing will provide a unique spot to enjoy the river and become one of Brisbane’s most breathtaking views.
“The Landing will feature garden beds, trees, terraced seating on the river’s edge and lush lawns for people to enjoy with their families, and to accommodate future public events,” Mr Crooks said.
“So far we have constructed around 3200m2 of the suspended structure, which when complete, will connect the existing Mangrove Walk to the eastern end of the structure providing a continuous river’s edge walk beyond the Riverside Expressway of more than 700 metres.”
The Landing will complement the first stage of public space that the Consortium opened in October 2019 that included Waterline Park, the 450metre Mangrove Walk and 500 metres of upgraded Bicentennial Bikeway.
Estimated completion: The Landing and wharf facilities are expected to open in late-2022 as part of the larger Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development.
Eagle Street Pier – Waterfront Brisbane
Eagle Street is set to see major redevelopment in coming years with the council’s City Reach Waterfront Masterplan and Dexus’ Eagle Street Pier projects. The Waterfront master plan aims to transform the 1.2 kilometre stretch of riverfront pathway between the Botanic Gardens and Howard Smith Wharves.
Key aspects of the plan highlight a lap pool outside Stamford Plaza, additional green space, new and improved city-cat terminals, better lighting and improved access to the river. Dexus’ Eagle Street Pier project was given the green light by the Queensland Government with over $2 billion of works due to commence in 2022.
Council adopted the ‘New World City’ mantra a number of years ago and is seriously committed to thrusting Brisbane onto the global stage by improving it for all residents. Additionally, with foreign investment funds snapping up prime CBD assets, tourists and business alike will also reap the rewards from Brisbane’s growth, change and potential.
The project will add two commercial office towers to Eagle Street and retain the fine dining precinct at Eagle Street Pier. Initial renders indicate two buildings climbing over 40 stories tall, with details sparse. The project will add two commercial office towers to Eagle Street and retain the fine dining precinct at Eagle Street Pier. Dexus will submit code compliant applications to Brisbane City Council mid-2020 and we’ll have more details then.
Estimated completion: No estimated completion has been announced for this project.
More to come…
With all these projects underway, it’s seems everything really is coming up Brisbane. There definitely will be more, and we’ll keep covering them. Want to let us know about new projects so we can investigate? Email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or snap a photo and tag @Brisbane on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.