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Demand For Industrial Property Drives Building Approvals North




trial building approval values grew by more than 15 per cent in the year to February 2018. Photo: Supplied

Unprecedented demand for warehouses and a renaissance in some areas of manufacturing have driven industrial building approvals through the roof.

The increasing reliance on online shopping from traditional retailers, as well as the rise of online-only e-tailers like Amazon, have pushed up demand for distribution centres, especially in locations linked to key motorways and transport hubs.

Many investors are looking north to Brisbane for better returns, as Sydney becomes more land-constrained and yields continue to tighten.

More than $535 million worth of approvals were granted nationally for industrial developments in February alone, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, released on Wednesday, shows. That figure had surged by more than 100 per cent from the previous month.

Total industrial property, including factories and warehouses, recorded an uplift in approval values of more than 15 per cent in the 12 months to February 2018 – the strongest growth across the commercial asset classes.

Leda Holdings has paid $36 million for a 1.85-hectare industrial site in Sydney’s Banksmeadow. Photo: Supplied

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said the strong interest in the industrial property sector “comes back to e-commerce activity”.

“I think rents are rising very strongly so that’s encouraged a pick-up in approvals for industrial complexes or warehouses.”

While most industrial construction approvals were for warehouses, it was factories which saw the most dramatic uplift in approval values, with year-on-year growth of 117 per cent – with a 300-per-cent surge from January to February.

Colliers International’s head of industrial research Sass J-Baleh said the Australian food manufacturing and cold storage sectors have and will continue to see strong growth in the next few years, thanks to expansion in the food sector.

“It is important to note that there are many sub-sectors within the overall manufacturing industry and that although historic headline figures have shown an unfavourable trend in manufacturing, there are definitely sub-sectors that have demonstrated recent growth,” she said.

This aligns with the Australian Industry Group’s latest Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index, which hit a record high of 63.1. A PMI above 50 indicates an expansion in overall manufacturing activity.

The value of all non-residential building approvals grew by 4.4 per cent in the 12 months to February 2018 – to more than $3.58 billion worth of approvals. It climbed back by 14.8 per cent in February from the previous month.

Master Builders Australia’s Matthew Pollock expects non-residential building activity to grow by 14.6 per cent in 2018, with an estimated $41.5 billion worth of projects to be completed.

“(The upswing in approvals) confirms the strongest outlook that commercial construction has enjoyed in years and that the long awaited upturn in the sector is underway,” he said.

Brisbane “riding upswing” market

An industrial site at 14-26 Commercial Road, Kingsgrove is tipped to fetch about $15 million. Photo: Supplied

Research released by Cushman and Wakefield on Thursday reveals that the volume of investment in industrial property has increased nationally by 38 per cent to $982 million in the three months to March 31.

Cushman and Wakefield’s head of research Dominic Brown said that Brisbane had been the strong performer in the past few quarters, where more investors were looking at the recovery in that market.

The combined three-year investment volume for Brisbane – at $1.1 billion – is at its highest level since the third quarter of 2015.

“In Queensland, it was still in negative territory until about two years ago and it’s only in the past couple of years that it’s returned to positive economic growth,” he said.

“If you think of where pricing is at in the three cities, investors are now looking towards Brisbane as they see it as a growth opportunity, whereas pricing in Melbourne and Sydney have moved forward quite a long way over the past couple of years.”

While Mr Brown’s outlook for Brisbane remains positive, he noted that discrepancies between vendor and buyer price expectations could limit future investment activity.

Sydney has recorded the lowest three-year investment volume of $869 million among the three eastern seaboard capital cities because of limited stock and declining returns.

The highest result was achieved by Melbourne, where $1.2 billion worth of deals went through in the past three years. But the Cushman and Wakefield report noted that transactions in that market “has been largely flat over the past 18 months… due to lack of available stock”.

Despite this, capital values of vacant land in Melbourne shot up 36 per cent year-on-year.


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Newstead, West End apartments putting the squeeze on industrial land



Newstead, West End apartments putting the squeeze on industrial land

Brisbane’s limited industrial land is under pressure from multiple sectors, and needs to be protected to sustain industry jobs, a Brisbane City Council report says.

Industry accounts for 15 per cent of the city’s jobs but industrial-zoned land supporting major businesses is often re-zoned for residential use, particularly along the Brisbane River.

As the city’s formerly industrial centre becomes increasingly residential, Brisbane’s major industry areas – both inner-city and further afield – need to change, the council’s Brisbane Industrial Strategy 2019 says.

“Although these precincts are generally well supported by infrastructure, there are opportunities available to promote and consolidate them,” the report notes.

“For example, this could include facilitating the efficient use of infrastructure, increasing services and amenity in industrial areas to help attract a talented workforce and realising the benefits of co-location.”

The report lays out six priorities and nine key actions to support and sustain Brisbane’s industry.

The report recommended land zoned for industry be protected but also calls for better management of industrial uses on such land to protect more “sensitive” neighbours.

It recommended “flexibility” for regulation to ensure future innovation be supported and the improvement of public transport and infrastructure to major industrial zones.

City planning needed to be used to develop industrial precincts around the city, the report finds.

City planning committee chairman councillor Matthew Bourke said 77 public submissions had been received during consultation on the plan.

“The industrial sector currently provides 15 per cent of all jobs in Brisbane and contributes significantly to local production and exports, with demand for industrial land potentially outstripping supply by 2041,” Cr Bourke said.

“The nine key actions focus on addressing key priorities for industry through an approach involving changes to Brisbane City Plan 2014, and non-statutory initiatives with a future‑focused, strategic approach to encouraging industrial development over time.”

Property Council Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said Brisbane’s industrial property market had been a “shining light” in recent years.

“This new strategy seeks to maintain this growth by removing a number of the obstacles
to further investment that are currently being experienced by the sector,” he said.

Mr Mountford welcomed the report’s emphasis on flexible regulation for the sector.

“Today you are more likely to find millions of dollars’ worth of robotics and workers in lab
coats rather than smoke stacks and overalls,” he said.

“That is why it is so important that our planning system moves with the times and ensures there is flexibility to attract the industrial uses of the future, rather than locking up land in a dogmatic way.”


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Stockland Offloads Two Malls for $143m



Stockland Offloads Two Malls for $143m

ASX-listed developer Stockland has pocketed $143 million from the sale of two Brisbane shopping centres, redirecting the proceeds into its office and industrial pipelines.

Economic headwinds, exacerbated by concerns around the growth of ecommerce and declining business confidence are weighing heavily on the sector.

The Stockland Cleveland shopping centre and the Toowong retail and commercial centre were sold to private investors, representing a 2.9 per cent premium to combined book value.

Economists are eyeing the plethora of retail assets hitting the market from big players, as anaemic rental growth, declining business confidence and a reversing wealth effect plague the sector.

A UBS survey of more than 14,000 consumers revealed a substantial decline in the shopping frequency at Australian malls.

UBS analysts said that they don’t anticipate the disposal queue of retail assets to clear in 2019.

Stockland chief executive Mark Steinert said that the sales align with the group’s strategy of divesting non-core assets.

“These transactions take our total asset sales for the current financial year to $256.1 million, representing 64 per cent of our target $400 million of divestments already achieved within the first nine months of the stated 24-month timeframe,” Steinert said.

Stockland commercial director Louise Mason said that the property giant is on track to achieve its target of $600 million of non-core retail divestments in order to target re-weighting into office and logistics.

“We continue to strategically reposition our centres, with a focus on customer experience, place-making and retail remixing towards growth categories, to ensure the resilience of our portfolio into the future.”

The two Brisbane centres are expected to settle by 30 June, 2019.




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Brisbane Office Market Sales Surge 60pc in 2018



Brisbane Office Market Sales Surge 60pc in 2018

Queensland’s growing economy and more than $44 billion of public and private sector infrastructure projects have attracted ongoing investment into its capital city office market, with the volume of office transactions above $5 million in Brisbane’s CBD reaching the highest level in 10 years.

Around $2.35 billion in office sales took place in 2018, a jump of 60 per cent, compared to $1.47 billion in 2017, according to the latest CBD Office Report from Colliers International.

A major source of capital was seen in cross border investment from offshore, including the likes of Canada, United Kingdom, United States, Singapore and Germany, increasing to $1.77 billion last year from $891 million in 2017.

National director of capital markets at Colliers International Jason Lynch said increased interest from offshore and domestic institutional investors in 2019 is expected to continue.

“Constrained supply of new developments is expected to continue in 2019 on the back of low risk appetite from Australian developers holding back the construction of new developments until pre-commitments are confirmed,” he said.

“This is a positive from an investor perspective,” he said.

Prime grade vacancy in Brisbane CBD at the end of 2018 was at 10 per cent, while secondary grade vacancy sat at 16.9 per cent.

Deloitte Access Economics forecasts Brisbane CBD’s white-collar employment market to gradually grow at an average of 2,820 persons per year across the next seven years to 2025.

And with overall vacancy rate sitting at a five-year low, Colliers International research manager Karina Salas expects increased leasing activity and tighter vacancy in the coming years due to growing white-collar employment in the CBD.

“With no new supply of premium assets available until 2022 and circa 17,400sq m of new leases of vacant premium office relocating in 2019, we are forecasting a reduction in vacancy rates from the current 10.4 per cent down to levels below six per cent by 2020.”

Slated for completion in 2022 is Mirvac’s $800 million development at 80 Ann Street. Salas says this is also the only premium building under construction, with about 70 per cent of its net lettable area already committed to Suncorp in what was described as the biggest leasing deal in a decade.

Brisbane CBD saw a total of 46,931sq m in net absorption last year and a total of 102,120sq m over the past three years averaging 34,040sqm per annum for this period.

The Brisbane CBD also recorded a total of 139,613sq m in withdrawals and a total of 209,290sq m in new supply indicating a total supply of 69,677sq m across the past three years.



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