Stalled Development at Toowong Site Sparks Community Debate

A once-promising redevelopment project in Toowong has become the centre of community and council discussions following years of inaction and controversy. 

The site at 23 High St, once the home of a Woolworths store and was earmarked for transformation into a vibrant hub with various amenities, remains undeveloped, causing widespread discontent among residents.

Originally slated to feature a mix of retail, office spaces, and green areas, the project, dubbed the Aviary, has been marred by delays and cancellations. 

Concerns have been raised about the Brisbane City Council’s decisions regarding the development, including the waiver of green space requirements and alleged breaches of development application (DA) conditions.

A History of Disappointment

“We’ve been waiting to see whether the new owners lodge a DA, but we just learned they’re apparently asking Council for a licence to keep stalling – and have potentially been breaching their DA conditions for years,” Greens MP Michael Berkman said

“It turns out that a very minor condition that Council imposed on the developers, to cover the site with grass within 3 months of demolition, was too much for them to comply with. They’ve now lodged a change application that effectively allows them to ignore this requirement and keep the site as they see fit indefinitely.

“Council already ditched the plans for a park at this site from their long-term infrastructure plan, waived the requirement for the developer to deliver greenspace nearby, and have apparently let the owners sit in breach for years.”

Response and Engagement

In response to the growing frustration, a local council member emphasised the city’s commitment to dialogues with the new site owners, who acquired the property three months ago. 

“The new owner has only recently taken over the property 3 months ago and was not responsible for what occurred on site before this,” Cr Penny Wolff responded.

“Council has outlined their concerns regarding their non-compliance with the conditions of their approval in terms of the site condition and fencing.

“In late December 2023, the new owner made an application to Council to change that condition of their approval and that is currently being assessed by Council.

“The new owner wants to genuinely engage and shares the need to make the site look even better and useful while design/development plans are being completed.” 

Residents may check DA A006427990 for the details.  

23 High St Toowong
Photo Credit: DA A006427990

Future Visions

Meanwhile, the debate has also attracted attention from urban planning experts and residents, who have expressed mixed feelings about the development’s direction.

DA A006427990
Photo Credit: DA A006427990

Some applaud the vision for revitalising Toowong but criticise the plan’s emphasis on parking facilities over more sustainable transportation options. Others, including local businesses, argue that the development could provide much-needed retail and public spaces, potentially boosting the local economy and community life.

As discussions continue, the future of the Toowong site hangs in the balance, with calls for a development approach that aligns with community values, environmental considerations, and the suburb’s overall needs. The council’s next steps and the developer’s plans remain keenly anticipated by those invested in the suburb’s development trajectory.

Published 2-Feb-2024

IJ Capital Buys The Aviary Toowong Site for $53 Million, Plans to Build Billion-Dollar Town Centre

The Aviary development in Toowong, idle some time, is now getting a fresh start as investment company IJ Capital prepares to build a $1-billion town centre at 9,000-sqm site that they acquired for $53 million.

IJ Capital has big plans for the area. They aim to work with the owner of the nearby property at 80-88 Jephson Street on a joint project with the vision of a massive complex covering 1.3 hectares of land with shops, offices, and homes.

Located at the corner of Sherwood Road and High Street, the future site of a new, billion-dollar town centre was purchased from Ray White Capital (RW Capital) and State Development Corporation.

The Aviary Toowong Site Acquired by IJ Capital for $53 Million
Photo Credit:  The Aviary Toowong /

For the previous owners, the decision to sell the Aviary Toowong site was influenced by the challenges caused by COVID-19, increasing building costs, and higher interest rates.

Ross McKinnon, the managing director of State Development Corporation, emphasised this and mentioned that the sale will help RW Capital pay back its investors after a time of uncertainty.

“We are delighted that the purchaser will look to develop the property,” said Ross McKinnon, expressing optimism about the project’s potential to benefit the Toowong community. 

“Since launching the development in 2020, we have received overwhelming support from council, local residents, and retail tenants, and we have no doubt that once built, the project will provide fantastic amenity to the Toowong community.”

Negotiated by Christian Sandstrom of Knight Frank, the deal was something that took an extended period to put together.

“This property is in a prime site in the heart of Toowong, and will follow other recent developments including the Monarch development on the old ABC site and Mosaic developments on Sylvan Road and Archer Street.”

The Aviary Toowong development comprises 150-residential units, 30 curated retail spaces, a 20-level office tower, and a cinema. The town centre draws inspiration from the iconic Grove Shopping Centre in Los Angeles.

Published 2-August-2023

The Aviary: Council Greenlights New Toowong Town Centre

Have you heard about The Aviary? This new lifestyle precinct on High Street and Sherwood Road in Toowong is set to reshape Brisbane’s western suburbs with its apartments, offices, retail shops and shared green spaces.

Brisbane City Council gave the green light for the development of this new Toowong Town Centre in October 2020 (DA A005434525).  

Set to start construction in late 2021, the planned development will not just improve the surrounding areas but also create 400 jobs until 2023.

Photo Credit: Brisbane City Council

For the last 20 years, Toowong has been behind the development of an urban lifestyle precinct that will cater to the needs of a growing community despite its proximity to the CBD.

Apart from having Toowong Village, much of this side of the suburbs have not changed. But the upcoming 9000-square metre town centre is set to revive the community and make it more liveable for the next generations.

Photo Credit: Brisbane City Council

State Development Corporation plans to build sections of The Aviary all at once. The precinct will have 150 residential units, an office tower, and 30 retail shops. Its green spaces and streetscapes have been modeled after the Grove Shopping Centre in Los Angeles.

The precinct will also offer cinemas, fresh food market, outdoor dining, childcare and medical facilities. 

Photo Credit: Brisbane City Council
Photo Credit: Brisbane City Council

“The significant growth of mixed-used developments is a result of community demand for self-sufficient hubs based on walkability and convenience,” State Development Corporation managing director Ross McKinnon told the press.

“If businesses have learned anything from COVID-19, it’s that we don’t all have to be working in the city to maximise productivity,” Mr McKinnon added. “While it’s still early days, we expect to see more office users make the shift to central hubs like The Aviary for the lifestyle benefits, where everything you need is at your fingertips and you don’t have to travel into the CBD.”

State Development Corporation has four other developments in the inner western suburbs. The company is collaborating with Dan White, Partner at White & Partners for The Aviary whilst Nettleton Tribe planned the design. The project is valued at $450 million.