Brisbane set to lose yet another heritage building

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A new demolition DA has been submitted on the old O’Reilly’s Bonded & Free Stores complex in Margaret Street in Brisbane’s CBD. 

The buildings were built in 1864 however they are not heritage listed.

The site is owned by mining magnate Sam Chong, who is also developing the Four Points by Sheraton at 103 Mary Street.

The code assessable DA proposes to replace the buildings with a dog off-leash area which has to be seen as a temporary use.

The DA number for this development is (A003775340).

Artist’s impression of proposed dog park.


As a Brisbane optimist I find it increasingly frustrating at the lack of creativity of developers who don’t seem to see character where character exists.

One would think that the best outcome for the site is to facade the buildings and to integrate it into a new development to give the future development a unique selling point or design.

A great, recent example of this is Aria’s Austin development in South Brisbane where the facade of a relatively small, modest old brick building of similar nature to this, probably newer is currently being restored and incorporated into the design. More examples of heritage integrated development here.

Not only does it look cool, but it sells. Austin sold very quickly off-the-plan as a result of the trendy new/old design which no doubt played some part in the speed of apartment sales. Credit should be given to this developer for converting this building.

It would have been much easier to simply knock it down but they saw the opportunity to do something out of the box.

I think it is disappointing that the developer of this site doesn’t see this same opportunity.

A new Bonded Stores website has been established to gather support to convince the developers to integrate the buildings into the future development proposal here.

Or you can help by signing the petition here. 

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  • We have to save these 150 year old buildings… Newman! Stand up for your beliefs if you have any ba..s at all!

  • I agree with the sentiment. There is very much a lack of vision on these matters.
    However City Council has the responsibility to correct where the market overlooks or fails. Council is fully equipped to make amends.
    I would encourage both Council and the developer to maybe stretch themselves a little beyond the anonymous effort that’s been tried to date.

  • Is this really still happening in 2014? The BCC and Queensland Heritage Council need to stand up and protect these important character buildings.

    Recently the Lord Mayor was rightfully saddened to see the loss of the Albion Mill to fire, hopefully then he will see fit to protect this much older and centrally located set of buildings.

    That end of Margaret Street has a beautiful heritage streetscape, which this planned ‘dog park’ would totally destroy. It’s also scary to think what will be built in its place. Methinks another soulless generic concrete and glass slab.

  • This is ridiculous! Brisbane wonders how to copy the character and ‘cool’ of places like Melbourne and then it allows the very few historical buildings to be demolished. This is not the 80’s! How is it still happening?

  • Whilst I agree with preserving heritage architecture, this building isn’t much of an architectural example apart from the façade saying stating its age. Maybe the developer could preserve the façade as an entry to the ‘dog park’ or even for its inevitable future use?

  • Welcome to Brisbane, Australia’s new world city! A magical place where we destroy character and heritage buildings, squash all creativity, oppose anything with vision and instead simply build CBD dog parks!

    I’m pretty sure people can walk an extra block to get to the city botanic gardens (and if dogs aren’t allowed the simple solution would be to create a section where dogs ARE allowed.)

  • Binks…Forget “architecture”…it comes down to taste, and more people would gain from the preservation of old buildings than the inclusion of yet another 20-40 story building. 85% of highrise architecture in this city is complete rubbish, anyway.

  • It’s a pity Brisbane, and Australia as a whole nation doesn’t take a look at the European countries who value their heritage and culture. They have the most amazing beautiful architectural buildings, castles, monuments and what’s more the country is proud of them and respects the heritage. They have constructions older than Australia itself that still stand!!
    We look at our old buildings as just an outlet for developers to come on in and destroy them just to replace it with massive high rise concrete construction, just like what they do with our beautiful Queensland homes on massive blocks of land….. Subdivide, chop them all up! Furthermore the government, regardless which party is in power couldn’t give a damn!
    I visit Europe very year to enjoy these sites. Brisbane has nothing! Look
    what they’ve done to King George Square, full of concrete, cafés no fountain, no grass and no enjoyable spot to “just veg out on”. We need a someone at the top with a clue for decent infrastructure, in our city/country & to begin to respect for our beautiful buildings we once had, and rare to
    still find!

  • I bet there are lots of people in Brisbane who pay thousands of dollars to go on European holidays to admire the beautiful old buildings. What do we do in Brisbane – we knock them down!

  • When visiting other cities in Australia and overseas, one of the main things i want to see is the historic buildings, if there are no historic buildings left, why bother visiting Brisbane ??
    Brisbane already has a disgraceful record when it comes to retaining it’s old buildings, it’s time to put a stop to the historical vandalism of the past few decades.
    Stop the demolition of any more of Brisbane’s old buildings.

  • I like many other echo the sentiments of the interested public who are somwhat dismayed that these buildings are just flattened and not incorporated into the new structure/ living space…got to be compromise

  • Thanks for drawing this to my attention. Brisbane has so few buildings of historical significance which give it some much needed character. I couldn’t agree with you more and all of the other comments above.

  • Don’t need a nickname quite happy to use my real one.Brisbane was settled in 1824 .this these buildings were only 40 years old at the time.slowly your heritage is being demolished Brissy and as a former residents does sadden me.i was sickened when the Bellevue hotel was destroyed and outright angry when Cloudland was removed at 4am. You really thought these days were over and obviously not.wasnt a beautiful old manor just destroyed by arson on the south side .once it’s gone its gone for good .take care of your windmill that’s all that remains from 1824

  • What an incredible shame that the owners do not see the opportunity they have in using the heritage of the building and incorporating it into any future plans. Would add so much more to the project and the area that way.

  • it almost feels like the time when I lived in Shanghai, where buildings and the built landscape have no meaning because we need to develop to ensure that we are living a contemporary life.
    it is Australia’s legacy and history that is being demolished with these buildings. The developers come from a non-Australian background, therefore have no reason to respect the years behind those walls.

  • These buildings were NOT built in 1864. The company they housed was established in 1864. The buildings date from the 1930s.

  • There were attitudes in C19th society that were acceptable then – such as racism and sexism – which are no longer acceptable – in fact, they are illegal now. Why then should be we hang onto the past in the form of buildings ? Particularly when their construction – brick – is not noteworthy and their age, though significant in the context of Brisbane, is not great overall. Is this building a classic of world architecture ? Are we better off just building a world class modern city ?

  • Why people are hyperventilating over this piece of rubbish being knocked down is a mystery to me. Quite frankly they look ugly and dilapidated. Architecture? It’s a cube of bricks with small windows in it. It’s about as exciting as a brick storage facility. Sure a dog walking park is not very interesting but the pile of rubble left there after demolition would look better than these buildings. They have no historical significance and are of no value to society. If you were driving past you wouldnt even bother turning your head to look at them. There is always a group of people who cry and whinge if any building (or busted shack) built before 1970 gets earmarked for demolition, why? not all of these dumps need to be saved. And just because it has estd 1864 on the building doesnt mean that was when the building was built, 1864 might of been when the company that built the building was established.

  • In regards to the last two comments: it’s about having a quality of streetscape, and frankly, large corporate offices rarely provide any sort of life or culture for people on street level. Beautiful or not, these buildings are “antiques”; architectural or not, they, once restored, would enrich the lives and activities of the people using and seeing them. These last two comments display typically ugly sentiments.

  • If you think these are ugly thats fine. But why dont you also go to teneriffe and check out all the woolstores around there. Are they Ugly????? theyve been done up to be a symbol of glamorous, boutique, unique. Even the old Pancake manor, do u think that should have been knocked down?

    Just a thought on everyone thinking that new is always better.
    something to think about

  • Yes, most modern high-rise architecture is cold and inhuman. However, the purpose for which these buildings were built is no longer viable – that’s why they are empty. If you’re going to keep them, they have to be adapted and that may not be cost-effective, for example you end up with expensive unsuitable housing or something – you have to plumb and rewire it all, put in lifts, cut the windows, strengthen the structure, comply with BCA. So you can do what, put a 2 bed apartment on at $500K ? Fools would buy it though – part of a 90 year old brick building ! Dog park !

  • No…, sorry “Death…” you’re not using an ounce of imagination. New and old can exist happily together. Some bloke from out of town wants the easy option of knocking down everything and quickly rebuilding… we’ve all seen the architecturally retarded “midtown” development. Go higher if need be, set back from the street level, you can’t blame Sam Chong, I don’t really care what happens in Singapore or Hong Kong, Brisbane locals have a duty to stand up for what’s right.

  • Brisbane is not a historic city and there is very little from the past that is worth the enormous cost of preservation. I drove past the old buildings in Margaret street on a recent business trip to Brisbane and they are just an eyesore, not a tourist attraction. The government needs to let the developers and investors get on with the job of building a new city.
    Demolition control needs to be abolished and numerous structures need to removed from the heritage list. Foreign tourists must have a good laugh
    when they see some of the structures on the heritage list (eg the big pineapple!). The roman emperor decried wooden housing as obsolete nearly 2000 years ago and the Brisbane City Council is hell bent on keeping it! Do they want to give the suburbs the character of a third world slum?

  • You cannot compare Europe Cities to Brisbane and the need to keep every piece.

    Europe cities are centuries old, where also purposely torn down at times, built upon to improve the functionality or land use. A lot of Europe cities where destroyed in the wars and the space left allowed for great buildings that you see today, 60 years on….under the same precedent, these new buildings should be heritage listed….

    But yes, not on any local or stage heritage list. Which is surprising with BCC completing an extensive over the top audit over 5 years ago of anything that hinted to be old. I note other buildings i.e pancake parlour and adjacent buildings which are cleaned up, though lifeless, inactive, do not achieve good urban design principals and might be a negative example BCC consider. Even if saved, the subject building façade is all that would remain.

    While somewhat old, the subject building probably does not meet the requirements of BCC and good urban design principals, nor enhance the public realm if kept. They would remind us however of a 60 year store, that advertised is business commencement and I don’t think it can be labelled heritage.

    The development application is Code Assessable I believe, being in the heart of the CBD and anyone in planning knows what that means.

  • Ah…so some of you guys WANT these buildings demolished…look what FJMT and Grocon did at 161 Castlereagh St Sydney… industrial era buildings not so dissimilar to these on Margaret St were beautifully incorporated into their 50 story development…just have a look, this could easily be done here, rather than the easy-demolish option.

  • Someone here said “Brisbane is not a historic city”! What could this mean? That is a throwaway remark, all places on Earth are historic, regardless of philistine opinions on what constitutes the architectural.

  • Well, what do you expect from a mining magnate and a Newman government???? It’s all worse than the 1980s!!

  • These are not worth preserving. Get off your horses and let time tick on..A new “anything” would sit better on this site. The facade two doors down is worth preserving and is on the list. The old Births Deaths & Marriages building at 501 Ann St is listed as it is an example of Art Deco in Brisbane. Is this really needed with so much Art Deco around Australia – think not. Lets not let the general public dictate what progress happens in the CBD.

  • It’s extremely important for Brisbane to retain its heritage character, and if Developer’s can do this the right way then that’s fantastic. However there is a lot of Brisbane, particularly South Brisbane where the ‘character’ cannot be restored and the precinct is slowly degrading. It is extremely important to consistently renew and revive our city in order for it to stay relevant. Development does not only bring housing to a precinct but (done the right way) brings retail, amenity and life to an area that will last over many years. Thinking that a city can just stay stagnant and develop without changes is ludicrous. In order for the city to thrive, for it to be more livable and for it to be a beautiful hub of culture, people and entertainment then development is very necessary!

  • Genuine heritage buildings certainly add beauty and character to an area, however it is ignorant to think that Brisbane is a ‘beautiful’ old city as it stands. We should be encouraging large scale, beautifully designed developments in South Brisbane especially one’s similar to Aria’s Austin that complement our historical architecture. Southbank is too good of an area to let it fall by the way side. If we allow more development it will revolutionise Brisbane skyline and South Brisbane (and Brisbane itself) will actually have a chance to compete with larger and more advanced world cities like Melbourne.

  • They shut it down
    They closed it down
    They shut it down
    They pulled it down.
    (Chorus – Street of your town, Go Betweens)

    who are the members of the heritage council and who voted which way?

    They mention that the site lacked a streetscape as a reason not supporting, which is not a relevant criteria in deciding a heritage value.

    The current council and State government is focused purely on economic development, good planning outcomes not being a consideration.

  • Absolutely knock it down. I has no use at all. Heritage and all that you say?…how many people walk past that building -stop- and admire the heritage status and the building itself….yep…

  • The worst part of this scheme is that now the buildings are gone and the dog park has been built, it has been cordened off from the public with a private property sign so no-one can use it. This was clearly a scam and it’s disappointing we have a system that allows such ridiculous and unregulated loopholes to be exploited and there will be no consequences for those who do.

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