The embattled Brisbane music and nightlife scene has received some good news – the addition of a 3,300-person theatre and event space in the Brunswick Street Mall in Fortitude Valley.
A private entity led by Scott Hutchinson, chairman of Queensland’s largest private construction company and a long-time live music supporter, has acquired the site at 312 Brunswick Street for the development of a multi-use music venue.
The entity acquired 312 Brunswick Street for $23.5 million in an off-market transaction. CBRE's Mike Walsh and Peter Court brokered the deal.
The $40 million venue will be replacing plans for a 30-storey residential tower by developer EG Funds Management who had partnered up with Chinese developer Forte on the 363-apartment project. EG purchased the former Optus Centre site in 2008 for $18.7 million.
EG listed the site for sale on 19 May this year, following major delays and lacklustre market conditions -- construction was originally scheduled to start in mid-2016.
EG associate director, capital transactions, Aurelio di Napoli said that the developer had received approval for a 30-storey development on the site and had planned to develop at the “appropriate time”.
"We received a compelling off-market approach with an entertainment venue, which is in keeping with the local precinct, and moved ahead with the sale,” Napoli said.
The venue at 312 Brunswick is described as a “passion” project for Hutchinson who operates The Triffid venue in Newstead in collaboration with Paul Piticco from Secret Sounds Group and former Powderfinger member John Collins.
Collins and Piticco, along with Hutchinson, are responsible for the 312 Brunswick music venue. Hutchinson said that the project would fill the void left by the closure of Festival Hall in 2003 and create a state-of-the-art live entertainment venue.
“Brisbane is an incubator for live music and a touring destination for a range of Australian and International artists. 312 Brunswick will offer a new space in the heart of Brisbane’s live music precinct to support and generate more music artistry,” he said.
Brisbane is ready for a venue of this size, [it has] come of age as a new world city that responds enthusiastically to, and financially supports, a whole range of live entertainment experiences.”
“Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night” the English poet Rupert Brooke said in a memorable reminder that interesting urban environments are contingent upon a vibrant and interactive nightlife.
Unfortunately, the night-time economy in Brisbane, like Sydney, has struggled since the implementation of public policy measures aimed at reducing violence and alcohol consumption.
The announcement of the 312 Brunswick Street venue comes after the closure of yet another music venue last week – Max Watts in Brisbane's West End.
A major catalyst for social and cultural change, an energetic nightlife is an essential component of a great city. Speaking to The Urban Developer last year, Hutchinson stressed the importance of nightlife in creating great urban environments:
Nightlife is everything, [there is] architecture, the weather and nightlife and that's all you've got."
Hutchinson was instrumental in kick-starting the campaign to wind back the introduction of lockout laws by the state government in 2016 -- teaming up with The Urban Developer
last year for the QLD Lockout Laws: The Importance of Nightlife in Creating Vibrant Cities event.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said that the venue will add to Brisbane's entertainment scene.
"It’s great to have local entrepreneurs helping to create new lifestyle and leisure opportunities in Brisbane – particularly in the redeveloped Brunswick St Mall."
According to the Hutchinson, Piticco and Collins the initial vision for the projects will ensure the modernised '50s facade will pay tribute to the building's original life.
The interior will be purpose-designed as a live venue. Work on the property is expected to commence in January 2018.