Toowong “Champagne Flutes Tower” Still a Go

The former ABC Studios was abandoned in 2006 due to a cancer scare, when a cluster of 17 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, raising fears of radiation contamination in the area. After being declared contamination-free, the land was later sold in 2013 to Sunland Group for $20 million.

Shortly after the purchase, Sunland submitted a proposal to the Brisbane City Council to build Grace on Coronation, three glass towers resembling champagne flutes on the site.

Grace on Coronation will have 555 secured residential units, 714 residential and 86 visitor car parks in the basement, and 125 visitor bicycle spaces. Half of the 1/5 hectare site will be set aside for parks.

Two of the towers on the Grace on Coronation development will be 24 storeys high, whilst the third tower will be 27 storeys high.

Sunland aims to breathe new life into the historic riverfront site by building an urban village through fascinating architecture that Managing Director Sahba Abedian calls “organic” and “sculptural.” He further said that the project will rejuvenate the old riverfront site.

Despite the similarities to another proposed Sunland development. Mariner’s Cove on the Gold Coast, Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has referred to the design as “a one-off,” calling it “striking.”


Turmoil in the Community

At the time of submission of the proposal, the planned towers exceed the 15-storey height limit for the site under the Brisbane City Plan. Despite this, in 2015, the project was approved after much deliberation.

Kate Peta Bell, a resident of Toowong, launched a Planning and Environment Court appeal against the development because it exceeds zoning regulations. Just recently, Judge Michale Rackemann dismissed the appeal.

According to Judge Rackerman, while he acknowledges that the towers do not comply with the zoning regulations, the height was offset by the expanse of public space around the towers’ base. He also said that the Grace on Coronation development perfectly jives with the character of Toowong.

This is not the only issue against the development, though. Local community groups were displeased with the proposal, preferring parklands to occupy the site instead. A local community group has even urged architect Jeremy Ferrier to propose a public park plan to the BCC to counter Sunland’s plan.


All’s Well that Ends Well

To address the local community’s qualms on the development, BCC planning chairman Julian Simmonds explained that in the proposal submitted, the developer has limited their project to just three buildings, instead of utilising the option to have up to five buildings, to which the applicant is entitled, under local planning laws.

Based on the project proposal, the community is going to have access to a large part of the 1.5 hectare sits. Also, Middenbury House, a mid-19th century riverfront villa will be open to the project.

Mr Simmonds said that the project will provide an extension of the Bicentennial Bikeway along Coronation Drive to Archer Street, through the site.

For his part, Councillor Graham Quirk also pointed out that the project has enabled nearly 60% of the site to be publicly accessible. This corresponds to an area that covers 8,868 square metres, composed of landscaped pathways, with access to the Brisbane River frontage. Likewise, two heritage-sited fig trees will remain untouched by the development.

It looks like it’s a win-win situation for the developer and the community of Toowong, after all.