Friday, December 18, 2009

APARTMENT vs APARTMENT

At the 'Property Council of Australia' Xmas Brisbane Luncheon last week it was hard not to notice the pink elephant in the room …the flailing construction industry…probably the one industry hardest hit by the global economic downturn… , but despite the doom and gloom I did manage to find a few optimistic souls who continued to look onward and upward, knowing that there is no purpose in wallowing…


Their focus and in turn the focus of our conversation was the flurry of multi-residential projects beginning to come on line…now these are consultants I was talking to…people at the beginning of the construction pipeline… so the products of their excitement and their hard work will probably not be seen breaking ground for a little while yet… but I too would like to consider myself an optimist…most the time…and this is the best news I have heard in a long while… to coincide with these reports on a quick trip to Melbourne last week, while speaking with a local realtor, he confirmed that the last few months has seen the Melbourne residential market “going crazy”. In some suburbs the average price had escalated so greatly in such a short space of time that several buyers had been priced out where only several months previous they could have quite comfortably afforded…

Meanwhile back on Brisbane’s north side, the release of both Mosaic and Hamilton Harbour, Leighton projects, has been met with eager buyers realizing an incredible percentage of sales in only a few weeks for both developments.

Not one to be behind the band wagon, group Kildey , development company, our brother company, and our largest client at the moment, stands ready to launch Brooke Elise to market early 2010. As some of you may know, we have been working on the Brooke Elise project for over 6 years now; the design and development approval has matured from a 4 storey multi-residential building to a 20 storey multi-residential, with grand lobby space, function rooms, restaurant and recreational facilities…Over this time it has been our goal to stay up to date with the market demands, this is not just as simple as the finishes, but also includes what users want out of a space, this is important no matter who is buying, be it owner/occupier or investor, as the best returns always come from the most desired properties…and in turn the most desired properties are those that are a joy to live in…so livability and living demands are one of our biggest design considerations.

Located close to the CBD, the likely occupier is what in the past has been nicknamed a “YUPPY”, but what we would like to think of as the UPWARDLY MOBILE… Professionals, Career oriented men and women, those who work hard and probably long hours, who want to substitute a commute for a few more hours enjoying the restaurants and cafes the inner City and Valley areas have to offer. They probably don’t spend too many hours at home, but the time they do is about quality, being able to stop and appreciate the moment, maybe sit out on a deck and watch the world go by. In understanding our occupier we hope to design a space that compliments his/ her lifestyle and only goes to add to it , possibly even making it a little easier…. In doing this we take cues from many other developments and keep an eye on what is new on the market, what market expectations are and what does and doesn’t sell…



In investigating the new developments that have come to market in the last 5 years in Brisbane, there seems to be a great disparity between them, in the interest of comparing apples and apples, we have only noted what we observed from the one bedroom apartments on offer.


MOSAIC - FORTITUDE VALLEY - BRISBANE

The “Mosaic” development offers no balcony to their one bedroom apartments, in my mind a grave error no matter how presales are going, having lived in Dubai in a climate where temperatures are prohibitively hot a majority of the seasons and you are forced to live most the year round in air-conditioned circumstances, very very rarely having the opportunity to enjoy the balconies provided, and if you are lucky enough to escape cabin fever you really do learn to appreciate the fantastic weather Brisbane has to offer. Having lived in London in considerably different climatic conditions where balconies are less of a draw card, but cabin fever a similar threat, you learn to appreciate the other commodity living in Australia has up until now afforded, and that is space….now the windows in Mosaic above balcony height might slide back giving a “Juliet” balcony but I dare say with traffic noise and sun loading this is not going to be a pleasant space to live.


CHARLOTTE TOWERS - CHARLOTTE ST - BRISBANE CBD

Charlottle Towers a Divine development offers something similar, what they call an “Alfreso” in most of their South East facing apartments, which is an undrained, tiled balcony like zone, that has no step down like a normal balcony, but has bi-folding glass windows above balustrade height at the edge of balcony and sliding glass doors between lounge and balcony. This at least offers additional space and a variety of living options…and possibly even enough room for a dining room table for 3 or four people, enough for guests.

The development at Kelvin Grove’s Urban village has moved the laundry to the balcony, obviously as a response to Brisbane’s perfect climatic conditions, negating the need for a dryer, they have also been mindful of other environmentally friendly design solutions, by adding two levels of doors to the apartment entry, a conventional fire door and a pair of louvered security doors , allowing breezes from open air lobbies to be drawn in through the apartments creating cross ventilation, and providing for natural ventilation a much more pleasant atmosphere for living.

MIRO - FORTITUDE VALLEY - BRISBANE








MIRO, a Fortitude Valley development has maximized living space by reducing space in other areas, the bedroom is only as big as absolutely necessary, even borrowing the central corridor space to form part of the bedroom at the entry, with only a thin veil of chiffon curtain separating the two, what could have easily become a small one bedroom apartment becomes a studio apartment, no matter what the realtors say…
The laundry and bathroom each encroach on each other’s space so much that little all else space remains for storage…the Kitchen in most cases is a galley setup , which considering that cooking in this apartment would most likely be for one, is ample, and the bench top carries on to become a sit-up bar dining table capable of accommodating 3 or four….the living space is tight but at least there is a balcony with privacy provided by mesh screening.

One item which seems to have not caught on during this time despite plenty of momentum initially was the SOHO, or for want of a longer explanation the “Study or Home Office”. In the beginning these spaces where big enough to provide for what now functions in many apartments as the poorer second bedroom, despite the lack of natural ventilation. These small rooms had a translucent door panel which at least allowed for some reflected natural light if the doors ran parallel to the balcony, but in a few I’ve seen, developers have even gotten away with hiding them down a long dark corridor. In time the SOHO shrank as few could afford the luxury or justify the extra floor area for space that could not buy them another rung on the bedroom/bathroom/ car space ladder.

And last but not by any means least, there still remains the two big debates, WIR vs Mirrored Robe in the Bedroom debate & the bathtub vs shower debate.

Now I believe the the WIR vs mirrored cupboard within the bedroom is really a female vs male debate , most woman enjoying the space and options an open WIR affords, being able to peruse the wardrobe for the days selection of clothing and accessories, whereas a man is more likely to know where his slacks and his shirts are and pick one of each, either as a selection of what remains washed and ironed or what is closest (sorry gentlemen– but it is true….more often than not).

However I believe the bathtub vs shower debate I believe is quickly becoming a moot point, as water conservation and greener approaches to living are being encouraged through several state and federal government initiatives, I believe it won’t be long before tax incentives or tax penalties will apply for those who do not convert to showers with water saving shower roses and possibly even timed water outlets.

So where do we land in response to all of these approaches…

BROOKE ELISE APARTMENTS - BOWEN HILLS - BRISBANE









Well we have a STUDY not a Soho, although big enough for guests it actually becomes part of the living space when not in use, and provides an entry space– unlike almost all our counterparts.
We have a WIR , men you will just have to learn to live with more options, we have decided to incorporate our laundry discreetly into our bathroom, which can operate as both bathroom and ensuite, with the closure of an additional slider. We have large linen cupboard and a closet to the study space providing for additional storage space usually forgotten in the smaller apartments, but very much needed….
And our kitchen is a galley not a dual bench, as we resolved our occupier was more likely to eat out, order in or be cooking for only a handful…not a football team…we DO have a balcony and we have treated it as the main dining space, as we believe our weather is too good to ignore, and our views probably an even better reason to enjoy the outside.

See for yourself….does the “YUPPY” in you like it ???