Architecture and Renovation, trends in Brisbane property

Pools sitting empty, gym equipment left to rust: What amenities do you really want in your apartment building?

Apparently there’s a new apartment development in Brisbane’s inner city that’s going to “set a new benchmark for urban living”. That’s according to their brochure anyway. We’re not entirely sure what the current “benchmark” is or in fact how they plan to set a new one, but the artist’s impressions of their pool looks pretty classy. And setting aside our cynicism about their wild claims it did get us talking in the office.

What could property developers do to really improve Brisbane’s apartment buildings?

Health clubs and yoga centres, poker rooms, business centres and sky gardens. They’re amongst the long lists of amenities some developers are adding to their buildings as they try to draw residents out of houses in the ‘burbs. This real estate salesperson once worked on a new development pitched as Brisbane’s “first Vertical Village”, with residents able to work, play and live in the one cloud-topping tower. And the brochures wrote themselves with easy superlatives about the champagne lifestyle you could enjoy without leaving your building. (For the post-armageddon world where you dare not venture out onto the streets of Brisbane?)

But here’s the irony. When we go into our inner-city apartment buildings the gym is usually empty. The pools are often overlooked by the balconies of dozens of apartments so many residents shy away from being forced to parade in their swimsuit. The theatres get vandalised by party-goers or equipment stolen. One CBD tower had to lock their “Resident’s Club Room” because large groups were communing there each night to share a noisy dinner (and save on gas and cleaning in their own apartments).

Do apartment residents really want a place to meet and mix with their neighbours? Do you want more and better amenities or just lower body corp fees/rents?

We’re painting a gloomy picture and it is true that some gyms for example are well-patronised. They’re in the big buildings that can afford quality equipment. But across our city there’s plenty of misspent body corp dollars, with common facilities that are a headache for lot owners and resident managers, earn their investor-owners not a penny more rent, and are rarely used by anyone.

So have your say: What should our buildings actually include and what can be left on the design table? Here’s a very quick survey so please share your thoughts.