'Re-life' Townsville's CBD

Last week I was in north Queensland as part of Property Council led discussions on how to 're-life' Townsville's CBD.

A key focus was the need to facilitate the recycling of existing low grade commercial buildings and under-utilised publicly owned assets to more economically viable uses, which would also make the city more vibrant.

Readers from many other cities would recognise the challenge.

Melbourne's 30-year-old Postcode 3000 strategy is the poster child of city centre revitalisation in this country, and rightly so.

It helped transform Melbourne from the depths of the 1990s recession to today's prosperous, dynamic city, which has just been voted Australia's most liveable for the fourth year in a row.

While it's popular to focus on Melbourne's laneway, art and small bars initiatives (all important), a re-read of the Postcode 3000 strategy shows how focussed it was on facilitating the redevelopment of old unwanted office buildings into new apartments. At its heart it was a redevelopment strategy.

This is precisely the opportunity for Brisbane and Perth where vacancies in B grade offices are 20 and 13 per cent respectively and likely to rise. That's why the Property Council is championing a range of policies and incentives in these cities to remove office stock from the market and represent them as new residential, student accommodation, retirement living, hotels or other uses which help to enliven the city.

It's a successful recipe. Just ask Melbourne.