DEPUTY Premier Paul Lucas has officially launched the $400 million Hamilton Reach (pictured) riverside project in Brisbane’s Northshore precinct today.

Undertaken by ASX-listed property developer Australand (ASX: ALZ), the project marks the first major new development since January’s flood devastation.

The $55 million first stage of the Hamilton Reach project features 78 residential apartments across two five-storey buildings and will initially create up to 80 full time construction jobs.

Once complete, the Northshore development will comprise around 800 apartments and townhouses across 530 metres of elevated riverfront living, about 6 kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD.

Australand’s Queensland residential division general manager Richard Fulcher, says the flood’s impacts on insurance premiums, property valuations and the manual labour force have not affected the planning for the project.

“The designs of the project took into account possible inundation from the river anyway, but the site was well below January’s flood lines and wasn’t flooded at all,” says Fulcher.

“We’re not too worried about what’s happening in the broader market and we aren’t paying attention to what anyone else is doing. We’ve got a unique product offering and that’s all we’re focused on. We have already had significant enquiry from interested parties who already know and love the location.

“Assessments of the recovery build have shown that as activity in the construction industry was below industry standard before January, the impact on labour availability for projects like Hamilton Reach will be minimal.”

Australand has also commenced construction on its controversial $160m Yungaba development at Kangaroo Point last year and is close to releasing the first stage of luxury residences within the heritage-listed Yungaba House building.

The Promontory stage of Yungaba is around 60 per cent sold totalling $30 million.

The project was initially met with some resistance from the community, particularly the Yungaba House Action Group who believed the redevelopment of the heritage building wasn’t in the interest of the public.

Fulcher says the protests are well behind the company and the project will preserve the cultural value.

“Yungaba House will be truly unique and provide a level of luxury that is rare in Australia. It is a project intertwining history, heritage and contemporary luxury living and is undoubtedly the most unique heritage project we have undertaken in Brisbane,” he says.

“The facade of the heritage building will be fully restored to the original fabric and the inside will be carefully transformed into 10 of the most opulent dwellings ever created in Brisbane.”

The $1.7 billion Sydney-based developer also plans to unveil further stages in its Ivadale Lakes estate in Caloundra which has achieved more than $100 million in sales.

Quality riverfront land scarce

Fulcher’s claims that Australand’s $560 million worth of riverside projects will come through the flood recovery period unscathed are backed by independent researchers Place Estate Agents.

The results have unearthed a scarcity of ‘flood proof’ riverfront land with very few areas of the city immune from January’s flood level.

Place research analyst Lachlan Walker says developments by Australand, Devine Leighton, Brookfield Multiplex and Mirvac in unaffected areas like Hamilton and Kangaroo Point will play a major role in restoring the city to full productivity.

“Recently completed and developments underway that have come through the floods unscathed will provide housing and rental opportunities and attract investment activity to Brisbane,” says Walker.

“There will be fewer apartment developments coming on line in coming years with the focus now on rebuilding and this will limit apartment supply in Brisbane’s inner-ring which will ultimately drive capital growth for owners and investors.”

With unaffected areas already earmarked for major residential development, Walker suggests property investors will look to ‘future proof’ their investments from flooding.

“The areas that were not impacted by the recent floods are certainly going to benefit from heightened appeal for riverfront residential investment,” he says.

“It appears that areas further down the Brisbane River such as Hamilton were protected by the width of the river and proximity to the ocean and investors may see them as less likely to be impacted by any future flooding.

“Flood mitigation will need to be considered in order to provide greater protection in areas that have been significantly impacted by the city’s latest floods and this has already resulted in future projects being shelved or put on hold.”

The research also predicts a two-tiered real estate market in the short to medium term. The next 12 months are likely to see continued demand for strategically located residential properties and a drop in values for flood impacted and low lying suburbs.

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