Celebrity Chefs, Luxury Retail, 6 Star Hotels and of course the obligatory casino. Crown Resorts and Echo Entertainment along with their respective partners revealed their intentions for the redevelopment of Queens Wharf in December. Though at first glance both may appear similar one stands out as the winner.
Both Crown and Echo have formed consortiums in order to deliver their proposals. Crown is partnering with Greenland, a Chinese Developer. Echo is partnering Far East Consortium and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises in order to form the Destination Brisbane Consortium. Echo’s design team includes Sleeman Partners, Jerde, Grimshaw, Cottee Parker Architects, Cusp, Urbis and ML Design. Crown’s design team includes Woods Bagot, Bates Smart, UN Studio, Tierra Design and RPS.
Both Echo and Crown are proposing similar developments. A casino, connecting pedestrian bridge to Southbank, associated hotels, residential units, approximately 50 restaurants and cafes, retail and event space. It is in the delivery where the differences in proposals become apparent. Crowns proposal appears to be inspired after the Crown Melbourne consisting of a large podium for the casino with associated uses and four high-rise towers.
Echo on the other hand appears to have designed and tailored its proposal to deliver a distinctively Brisbane Flavour. Comprising of 4 towers as per the Crown proposal the riverfront building has been designed in an arc with a full length sky deck on top similar to the Marina Bay Sands Casino in Singapore. This allows Echo to deliver a number of alfresco style bars and restaurants in the sky, sure to be a local tourist attraction. Additionally Echo’s current Treasury Casino and Hotel will be converted into a department store and Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
The government brief for Queens Wharf calls for the activation of the Queens Wharf area and the provision of open space. Both proposals deliver on this. However again Echo has taken this to the next level. Echo promises to deliver a water park for families, river walk open plazas. Echo however proposes to build into the river similar to the ill-fated North Bank Proposal, delivering more open and lively spaces while also activating the river currently cut off by the riverside expressway. However unlike Echo, Crowns open space looks to be an afterthought with less integration with the surrounding urban fabric.
Even from these preliminary proposals it’s clear that Crown provides a Melbourne solution for Brisbane while Echo provides a Brisbane solution for Brisbane. While Crown appears to have shoehorned its Crown Melbourne into the Queens Wharf block, Echo has delivered a tailored solution for Brisbane. Additionally Echo having control of the current Treasury Casino will allow for transformation of the existing heritage buildings and created an integrated precinct from Queen Street to QUT. While Echo has never delivered anything on the scale its partner Chow Tai Fook is one of the biggest developers in Hong Kong.
With the looming election and LNP not revealing donations over $12,400 it is impossible understand what may be happening behind the scenes or know what kind of government lobbying is occurring.
Despite numerous attempts by Brisbanedevelopment.com to attain Labor’s policy position on Queens Wharf, to date no statement has been given by Queensland Labor on Queens Wharf.
However, in a bizarre move, the Labor backed-United Voice Queensland Union has been actively lobbying for Crown despite obvious social implications of making Brisbane a two-casino city. Therefore it is assumed that Labor may back Crown consortium’s bid if elected on Saturday the 31st of January.
Unusual Courier Mail Poll Movements
On the day of the bid release, the Courier Mail polled its readers asking them which was their preferred design. On that day Echo scored a commanding lead of 82% support.
However on the 27th of December, things made a bizarre turn with the poll dropping Echo’s support from 82% to 64%.
- 30am – Echo leading crown by 64% to 36%
- 45am – Echo’s lead drops to 52% in a matter of minutes
- 45am to 12.00noon – Echo manage to inch up to 54%
- 40pm – Poll closed by Courier Mail with crown taking over the lead 60% to 40%
The Courier Mail has since removed the poll completely from it’s website and is nowhere to be found. Days leading up to December 27th, the Crown-backed United Voice QLD Union sent database emails calling on members to vote for Crown, however it is not entirely known why the poll fluctuated so much in a space of 24 hours.
For the record, two more accurate polls from Skyscrapercity.com, an international development forum has Echo placed ahead at 89.25% as at 11pm the 27th of January and Brisbanedevelopment.com also shows Echo’s Destination Brisbane in a similarly commanding position of 78% of 652 users as at 11pm 27th January.
The Echo-lead Destination Brisbane Consortium blends heritage, public spaces and retail activation together. The Arc is set to become a valued public asset in Brisbane boasting 360-degree views from a grand Skydeck that will likely become the first
point of call for many national and international tourists visiting our city.
Echo’s Destination Brisbane presents a generational opportunity to transform Brisbane’s most desolate part of the CBD into what will quite possibly be the most exciting precinct in Australia.
Source: News Release, Brisbane Development, 28 January, 2015