Mystery international uni signs up for Qld development

ONE of Fortitude Valley's most run-down sites is set to become an education precinct with a leading international university signed up and 30-storey student accommodation and office tower proposed for its second stage.

Millinium Capital Managers Ltd - through its Millinium's Alternatives Fund - will lodge a development application at the end of the month for the first stage of the $180 million project at the historic Waltons department store site at 240 Brunswick St and 11 Overells Lane.

According to an ASX announcement Millinium has secured a 12-year precommitment from a leading international university to create a campus on the site.

The project's first stage, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, will involve refurbishment of the heritage-listed Overells and Lincoln Mills buildings and a fit-out for the university being designed by Arkhefield.

The university's front entrance will revitalise the Wickham St facade and the existing Brunswick St shop front. Overells Lane will be opened up, with access to the station and the building, and a university-owned restaurant will be established on the lower ground floor.

The second stage will involve the demolition of the former Waltons store and part of the Braggs building, while retaining their facades.

A 30-storey tower is proposed on the Waltons site, with a mix of student and co-living accommodation and co-working space.

There will be a new public plaza, a link from Brunswick St to the station and a retail precinct, with discussions already underway with a major national retailer.

Early plans for the former Waltons department store site in Fortitude Valley.
Early plans for the former Waltons department store site in Fortitude Valley.

The former Waltons department store building, which closed down in 1987 and has been in the hands of investment company Mount Cathy Pty Ltd ever since, was marketed by Knight Frank and Glen Gracie Real Estate in 2017.

With frontages on Brunswick and Wickham streets, the three classical building complex was constructed in 1907 by the Overell retail family. It was taken over by Waltons in 1956 and was part of the then vibrant Fortitude Valley retail hub.

Since Waltons' demise it has had number of different uses, with the most prominent being an Asian novelty product store on the ground floor facing Brunswick St.

According to the ASX release Millinium has secured acceptable debt finance and received firm interest from equity investors for the first stage of the Waltons development project.

"The development of the Waltons site will be a significant further step in the regeneration of the Fortitude Valley precinct, which is one of Brisbane's fastest growing areas with anticipated population growth of 4.5 per cent per annum over the next decade," Millinium said in the statement.

"The precinct is undergoing substantial transformation with the July opening of the

Fortitude Music Hall which has a capacity of 3300; approval for a new cinema complex in the

Valley Metro Centre; refurbishment of the Valley Metro retail area; and creation of public space surrounded by landscaping."

Millinium said the expected completion of the contract for sale would be on September 20.