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The mile high club
By Julia Nekich
April 29, 2006

The childless and well-heeled are buying into Australia's mega high-rise.

High-rise living is being redefined by "mega" high-rise - a term that can be attached to a handful of residential towers sprouting up in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. At up to 92 storeys, these inner-city developments are dwarfing surrounding buildings and producing "vertical villages" in areas where space is at a premium.

Offering every desirable facility, tight security and enviable views, they're becoming a major status symbol for investors and owner-occupiers alike, who have been snapping them up.

An agent selling Q1 in Surfers Paradise, currently the world's tallest residential tower, says: "We went on the market four weeks after September 11, and 80 per cent of the units sold within the first few months."

In Sydney, there is World Tower in the southern CBD, a 79-storey, 234-metre development completed last year. It is 93 per cent sold. Another is the Norman Foster-designed, 59-level Lumiere @ Regent Place (which includes a building of serviced apartments) beside Hoyts at George and Bathurst streets, due for completion in 2008. Some 150 of the first 228 apartments have sold.

In Melbourne, there is Eureka Tower, a whopping 92 storeys and 300 metres above ground level. Eureka has been vying with Q1 (at 80 storeys and 327 metres) for the title of tallest tower. It is 80 per cent sold and almost complete.

Vision, Brisbane's latest mega high-rise, was launched in Sydney recently as apartments became available for sale off the plan. At the event, demographer Bernard Salt said Brisbane had been arguably the fastest-growing city in the world in recent years and was home to 20 of Australia's 200 wealthiest people. "So it's time for an iconic building," he said.

Vision will have 79 storeys stretching 287 metres high and is due for completion in 2010. In Brisbane's Gardens domain, it will command views of the city and Moreton Bay, and those residents at the top end will be able to see as far as the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast. It offers 380 luxury apartments in myriad configurations and styles, resort-style facilities, and commercial and retail spaces - even a two-level observation deck.

Associate Professor Bruce Judd, deputy director of the City Futures Research Centre in the Faculty of the Built Environment, University of NSW, says the increase in mega high-rise is inevitable. "Sydney is a global city and has attracted lots of people from overseas. Other cities, like Melbourne and Brisbane, are more aspirational - the 'mine's bigger than yours' game is a symbol of this aspiration. The thing is these prestige, landmark buildings do put places on the map. Visitors can go to the observation deck and say, 'I've been to the tallest building in Melbourne'.

They are attracting buyers who get some value out of that status - either as residents or investors," Judd says. "They're the urbanites - yuppies, SINKS, DINKS and the wealthier end of the empty-nester market. In the downtown developments, they are usually affluent, highly mobile and childless. Investors, in particular, prefer these buildings."

A number of apartments in many of these buildings, including in World Tower, Q1 and Lumiere (usually at the lower prices), are serviced. "So they become de facto hotel rooms competing directly with the hotel market," Judd says.

Frasers Property Group, developers of Lumiere @ Regent Place, call it "Australia's first vertical village".

"Residents will have everything there that they can find in a horizontal village like Paddington," says Dr Stanley Quek, the company's CEO.

"Delis, retail shops, indoor-outdoor pools, theatrettes, a dance studio, spas and saunas, a two-level function area, and Club Lumiere - a gym such as Fitness First. There is also a variety of units - as varied as in a horizontal village."

But the presence of facilities doesn't guarantee residents will use them, says Judd. He also points out that high numbers of tenants make it difficult to form strong communities. "There's a lot of churn," he says. "How can you form communities when you have a high turnover rate?"

Daniel Grollo, managing director of Grocon, which is building Vision and is also the developer of Eureka, says it's difficult to calculate the exact percentage of investors or owner-occupiers in Eureka because of the high turnover.

"But I'd say 40 per cent of buyers [in Eureka] are investors, because the apartments have been very strong on leasing. These towers have a few ingredients that provide a point of difference: they're well located and are high quality, iconic buildings, so they hold their value."

Vision's sales manager, Deborah Provost, says investors tend to buy the lower-priced apartments: "People don't want to be paying $2 million for an investment property."

These towers offer killer views. A two-bedder on level 57 of World Tower fetches $915,000, while the same apartment is an extra $165,000 on level 58. Another level up, and you're paying $1.2million.

In Q1, a 160 sq m apartment on level three is $650,000. The same apartment on level 54 is more than double the price, at $1.4million. From level55 up the remaining apartments are priced between $1.25million and $3.55million.

However, apartments on higher floors can take longer to sell, perhaps because of the steeper prices. Q1 has 19 apartments for sale above level 54, and just five below that. Its "sky homes" - 247sq m apartments from level 61 - have about 250-degree views of the beach, ocean and city.

"In high-rises, balconies and outdoor gardens are quite useless because of the wind factor," Quek says. But good design can overcome it. The mega high-rises offer glass-enclosed rooms with windows that can open out or slide up. "Lumiere has indoor, fully enclosed loggias that can be opened by glass sliders for air and wind. The majority of them are the length of the living rooms," Quek says. Enclosing balconies improves views from the street. "A lot of balconies have cheap outdoor furniture and are used as storage. Lumiere will look very simple and modern - all clad in glass."

World Tower
Sydney. Studios from $340,000, two-beds from $680,000, three-beds from $1.15m-1.46m. Levies: $821-$2200 per quarter. Contact:0410 524 244

Surfers Paradise. Two-beds from $850,000, three-beds from $1.25m-$3.55m. Levies: $696-$5280pq. Contact: 1800 992 992

Brisbane. One-bed from $355,000, two-beds from $499,000, three-beds from $870,000-$3.25m, four -beds from $2.35m-$3.78m. Levies: not yet available. Contact:1800 556 196

Eureka Tower
Melbourne. Two-beds from $595,000, three-beds from $1.07m. Levies: $750 to $6250pq. Contact:0418 317 158

Sydney. Studios from $370,000, two-beds from $698,000, three-beds from $1.34m, penthouses $2.6-$6m. Levies: $752 to $2900pq (penthouse). Contact: 1300 857 057

Glenn Marin had never lived in an apartment. But in November 2003 he signed a lease for a unit on level 29 of World Tower with his partner, Catherine, and he hasn't looked back.

Three weeks ago he bought into the development: a 140 sq m two-bedder on level 57.

"I work on Pitt Street and love the fact that I don't have to commute. Plus there's tight security, a shopping centre below and the gym, which I always use," says Marin, a marketing manager for a health and nutrition company.

He decided to buy an apartment in World Tower because "we got used to the area and the community and we were reminded every day of the hassles others have commuting to work. We save nearly $1000 a month on petrol, tolls, parking and other car expenses. We bought on level 57 purely for the views. We get 180-degree views, from Centrepoint Tower, across the harbour and ocean, all the way to the airport."

Marin paid $915,000 for the apartment. Strata levies are $1700 a quarter.

79,966 Posts
gee they never get facts/heights right do they?
world tower-79 st/234m? actually 73st/230m
Vision-79st/287m? actual- 72st/283m
Eureka-92st/300m? actual- 91st/297m
lumiere-59 level? actual - 47 levels
Q1- 80 st/327m? actual- 78st/323m
close but no cigar

originally posted by soulvisionq1

79,966 Posts
hey its a skyscraper forum! what else did you expect? lol

584 Posts
Well let's turn it into a genuine mile high story section:

Yeah, I dunno, me and the missus did once on a Hercules flying to Hawaii as part of an advance party for an exercise. There were two others on the plane in the cargo section and they were asleep. Well we didi it to pass the time on top of the cargo that was stacked and strapped about 9 ft off the floor. It was a lot of fun I have to admit and most of it was in not getting caught. It was several months before we were married ... And no it wasn't the reason for our marriage :)

But we were young and stupid. Hormonal and all that stuff. It took 18 hours in two legs to fly to Hawaii with an over night stop over in a tiny little island called Kwajalein. We did the wild thing again that night once we were landed and many drinks had passed away in the Pacific Night Club and at some tiny little out of thee way drinking club that we'd been warned to stay away from. Well, you tell an Australian Serviceman to stay away from somewhere and that's just a red rag to bull.

In the end we had a great time in the air and on the ground. Ahhh happy memories :)

Premium Member
10,090 Posts
I remember in the Navy they used to give us lists of off limits places to avoid in foriegn ports, but they had to stop it as everyone was using them as a places to go list.
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