Highgate Hill

Torbreck Apartments: 1st Off-The-Plan High Rise Sales in Brisbane!

Many of us will remember the heyday of off-the-plan sales that occurred in Brisbane during the 1990’s.  At the time we thought that this was a new and innovative marketing strategy, but as is often said – everything old is new again. In fact, the first large scale off-the-plan unit sale in Brisbane, was conducted in the 1950’s when the sale of the iconic Torbreck apartments was launched to the public by builder Noel Kratzmann and selling agents Torbreck Real Estate Brokers.  They were selling the dream of the American lifestyle that was spreading to Australia through Hollywood and popular culture. A ‘new concept of modern living’ so the marketing promoted.

Perched on the crest of the hill in Dornoch Terrace, Highgate Hill, Torbreck was situated in one and a half acres of landscaped grounds incorporating a free form pool and private dressing sheds. The marketing material boasted of a roof top sun deck and observation lounge and an exclusive ground floor retail complex, including restaurant, pharmacy, hairdresser and beauty salon. Room service from the bar and restaurant was to be offered to all owners.  Sadly, this part of the project never eventuated but it was an innovative concept that wasn’t to be repeated by developers until many decades later.

Torbreck apartmentsLike our current pre-sale off the plan agreements where developers need to achieve a certain number of sales to obtain finance before starting to build, the units which were sold as Company Title, required Share Applications to reach 600,000 prior to commencement. This guaranteed the funds of £600,000 needed to ensure completion (around $19,000,000 in today’s money).

To secure a unit in Torbreck, five percent of the purchase price had to be paid as an holding deposit, together with the completion of a Unit Holders Agreement and an Application for Shares in Torbreck Home Units Limited. A further deposit of one third of the purchase price was payable within 14 days of Share Applications reaching 600,000 shares. Unlike our contemporary off the plan sales, which don’t require payment in full until completion, the balance of the purchase price had to be made in four equal instalments, commencing 3 months after the start of construction and quarterly thereafter.

Those wanting the privilege of calling Torbreck home paid between £3,400 and £12,000 pounds (approximately $108,000 to $380,000 in today’s money) for apartments ranging in size from studio to 2-bedroom sky suites.

The concept, construction and marketing resulted in a flurry of interest and the majority of the 147 apartments were sold off-the-plan.

Please share your stories of the Torbreck Apartments. Have you owned or lived in the building?!