March 31, 2015 – 12:00AM
brisbanetimes.com.au senior reporter
More details have been revealed about the biggest Brisbane development in a generation.
Brisbane will have a new underground shopping plaza running under the Queensland Treasury Building in Queen Street, according to one of two firms bidding for a new entertainment centre for Queen Wharf.
It will run underneath Elizabeth Street and Queens Park.
Destination Brisbane Consortium
Shoppers would walk into the Treasury Building at the top of Queen Street and the first two floors will be a department store, leading down to the new plaza.
The top two floors of the heritage-listed Treasury Building will become a new Ritz Carlton Hotel.
Geoff Hogg, Echo Entertainment’s Queensland managing director, released the plans as he outlined further details of their Destination Brisbane Consortium bid.
The company has leases until 2070 to “adaptively reuse” the heritage-listed Treasury Building, the Lands Administration Building and the old State Library in William Street.
Destination Brisbane would remove the security and support services from the first floor under Queens Park, above the car park.
“In our proposal that all gets removed and that will allow the department store to go underneath Elizabeth Street and underneath Queens Park,” Mr Hogg said.
“So when you step into the front steps of the Treasury Building, you walk into a department store, when you get over towards Elizabeth Street, you will go under Elizabeth Street and you flow right underneath Queens Park,” he said.
Historic Queen Park – which runs between the William and George streets, behind the Queensland Treasury Building and in front of the Lands Administration Building – will be made level and a glass dome will cover escalators down to the underground shopping plaza.
The escalators would run down in front of the statue of Queen Victoria in Queens Park.
“In front of the statue, people would go down the escalators and you would actually be inside the mall,” Mr Hogg said.
“You could go right under the Treasury Building and pop up in the Queen Street Mall.”
Preliminary talks about tenants have been held with commercial real estate brokers, Jones Lang Lasalle, he said.
Echo plans to make better use of the space under the existing Treasury Casino, which it will close as a casino and re-style as a department store, if it wins the bid.
Mr Hogg said few people realised there was large underground space under the Treasury Building.
“A lot of people don’t know, but the old Treasury Building already has an underground walkway under William Street, that comes up in Queen Wharf Road,” he said.
“So the Treasury Building allows you to access that to go underneath Queens Wharf Road,” he said.
“But also now if we win the bid you will be able to come up into Queens Park or in the Land Administration Building.”
The hotel in the Lands Administration Building will also be upgraded as a Ritz Carlton Hotel.
“Obviously in our proposal, we are the only ones who can make any changes to the Treasury Building, the Land Administration Building and to the State Library, because they are part of our lease,” Mr Hogg said.
“We have the lease for those until 2070 and we have spent a lot of time on how we activate the full precinct and how we activate them.”
The old State Library in William Street will become a tourist centre with information about the history of Brisbane, right next to the museum in Brisbane’s oldest building, the Old Commissiariat Building.
Queensland’s National Trust, currently in the old Immigration Building, would shift to the State Library allowing the old Immigration Building in William Street to become restaurants, bars and eateries looking over the river.
“I know everybody gets very excited about the new buildings, but this is also about telling the story of our history,” Mr Hogg said.
“So if we open up the Treasury Building by making it ‘not a casino’ it means everybody of all ages can enjoy it,” he said.
“And if we take the administration out of 159 William Street – the old State Library – then everybody can access it.”
Geoff Hogg said adapting Brisbane’s heritage buildings were an important part of their bid – in addition to the Skydeck and Arc Building – and modern hotels, bars and restaurants and cross-river bridge link to South Bank in their proposed new buildings between George and William streets.
“Queens Wharf is the birthplace of Brisbane,” he said.
“Where do you go when you arrive in the precinct to understand a little bit more about that?”
Both Echo and Greenland launched their bids for Brisbane‘s Queens Wharf precinct before Christmas.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the new Labor Government supported the Queens Wharf proposal and a decision on the two bids would be made in the middle of the year.
“A decision is expected mid-2015,” Dr Lynham said.
“This is being undertaken through a competitive procurement process which is ongoing.”
Dr Lynham said the technical, commercial and probity viability of both proponents’ proposals were now being thoroughly assessed.