We really like Brisbane at the moment. “Australia’s New World City” is the city’s strapline, and it’s a lot more than empty rhetoric. Having hosted a very successful G20 Summit back in November, Brisbane is really on the up. New business is pouring into the city along with a ton of new residents, and the whole place just feels a lot more international and cosmopolitan than it did even a few years ago.
I was lucky enough to meet with Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Graham Quirk this week while visiting the city and checking out some potential new markets and investments. He’s been working hard to encourage Brisbane’s global vision through events such as annual trade tours throughout Asia-Pacific with Brisbane businesses, and it’s clear he’s excited about the success they’ve been having in growing Brisbane’s international reputation.
It’s very apparent that the Brisbane City Council is a major supporter of foreign investment and has the ability to effectively deliver on that “Australia’s New World City” vision. One of the key factors enabling the council’s work is their ability to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy; their geographic jurisdiction is the equivalent to that overseen by many local city councils combined in Sydney and Melbourne, which basically means they have a much easier time getting things done.
International education has become a key market that the council have been working hard to nurture given the city’s student population of 75,000 – to put this in context, there are 200,000 people working in the Brisbane CBD. A new scheme that is representative of the council’s general approach has seen the Lord Mayor enact major concessions for those who develop student accommodation sites, a move designed to work for both the city’s students and its investors.
Much of the council’s recent work has been concerned with making Brisbane a great place to do business, and the growing economic strength of the city makes it clear they’ve been very successful. In fact, the Regional Australia Institute’s [IN]SIGHT index now ranks Brisbane City first or second nationally in five of the ten categories they use to rank regional competitiveness throughout the country.
Looking beyond the city’s economic success, Brisbane was last year called Australia’s hippest city by Lonely Planet, and it’s not hard to see why. The city’s entertainment scene is thriving. It has played host to the Asia-Pacific Screen Awards – Asia’s answer to the Oscars – since 2007. This prestigious event considers films from over 70 countries, encompassing half of the world’s film production.
Elsewhere in the city, there’s the historic Brisbane Powerhouse – a repurposing of a decommissioned power station ¬that’s become a favourite venue for music and comedy shows, as well as open air cinema nights or just dinner and drinks at its great location on the Brisbane River. They even run a farmers market that’s packed with locally sourced ingredients.
Also popular is the refurbed Second World War commercial hangar now known as the Triffid. Converted into a live music venue by a former member of the Aussie band Powderfinger, the Triffid has swapped planes for a runway full of international and local acts to draw in the crowds.
This sort of regeneration is a theme for Brisbane at the moment, with a raft of old warehouse and industrial properties being converted into exciting new restaurant spaces, or even microbreweries like the thriving Newstead Brewery or the Tipplers Tap. The Gasworks redevelopment in Newstead features some great food and drink suppliers, including the Standard Market Company ¬¬– another favourite of those looking to support their local food suppliers ¬– and the Wine Emporium, which has been building an excellent reputation among those who know their Claret from their Chianti.
These are the sort of things that are bringing more and more people to Brisbane every year, although the job growth is another big factor in that. Australia TradeCoast on the city limits is the fastest-growing business and industrial precinct in the country, having seen a whopping AUD6 billion invested to date. There are already 60,000 Brisbanites employed there, but that figure’s expected to rise to a huge 110,000 by 2031.
There’s a similar job growth story on the fringes of the CBD, with the Newstead Riverpark development in particular attracting some heavy presence from big business. The Queen Street mall has grown into the busiest in Australia, now attracting over 26 million visitors annually, so it’s little surprise that major international retailers such as Apple, Cartier, Top Shop, Hermes, Tag Heuer and more have set up shop in central Brisbane in recent years, bringing even more jobs to the city centre.
There’s just a really palpable atmosphere of positivity around Brisbane’s centre right now. That certainly makes it easy to believe new forecasts of 100,000 new jobs created in the CBD by 2031, but there are .
We’ve looked at some really exciting developments on this trip, as well as identifying some great markets around the city. , one of our Investment Managers for Australian markets who’s a Brisbane native, will be following up next week with more information on Cannon Hill, an area we’re particularly interested in, so stay tuned and watch this space.
Founder and Chairman of IP Global