Piece of lost Brisbane history changes hands

A promotional tram celebrates the opening of the Picadilly Arcade, in 1958. The former Piccadilly Arcade, at 340 Queen Street.
Nanjing Night Net

The fate of the old Piccadilly Arcade in the Brisbane CBD hangs in the balance after a $4.38 million sale saw 340 Queen Street pass into the hands of a private owner-occupier last month.

In a rare deal for the ‘Golden Triangle’, the 472 square metre freestanding building and its 10 metres of prime Queen Street frontage was sold on June 26 after 60 inquiries, 30 inspections and seven offers were handled by agents Colliers International.

Australian Property Institute Queensland president Philip Willington said it was unlikely the site would return to its arcade roots, nor would it be developed into a larger space given the constrictions of the neighbouring towers.

Despite the lack of development potential, Mr Willington said the new owners had scored a good deal on a long-term investment property at a time when the CBD commercial market was experiencing encouraging activity.

“Most of its value is driven by the Queen Street frontage,” he said.

“Tenanted, you’re looking at a net income of about $350,000 per year.”

Colliers International agent Jason Lynch said the interest in the property was primarily due to its location at the heart of the city’s financial district and proximity to prestigious buildings nearby.

“There are limited freestanding buildings on Queen Street and in the ‘golden triangle’, and properties in the sub-$10 million price range in this precinct certainly don’t come up for sale very often,” he said.

“Opportunities like this are extremely rare.”

Opened to great fanfare in 1955, the Piccadilly Arcade connected Queen Street to Adelaide Street and housed a range of tenants across its three levels including market maven Peter Hackworth’s Primitif Cafe – later Prim 2 – a beatnik hotspot revered by Brisbane’s alt-culture.

Back then, there was a tram stop at either door, and the arcade’s air-conditioning was worth a key feature of a dedicated promotional campaign ahead of its launch aimed at distinguishing Piccadilly from a string of competitors including Town Hall, Grand Central, Rowes, Mayfair, Tattersalls, MLC and the original Brisbane Arcade.

Mr Willington said Piccadilly ceased to operate as an arcade in 1987 when it was snapped up by Kayese Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Halwood Corporation Ltd (formerly Hooker Corporation Ltd), at the height of a property boom as part of a mega-site property amalgamation project dubbed Tower 99.

But the $375 million project collapsed and, in 1993, the Australian Financial Review reported the property parcel, which included the 15-storey former AAMI building at 93-97 Creek Street and two vacant blocks fronting Adelaide Street, was unsuccessfully put to market with $69 million price tag in an attempt to recoup losses

The old arcade was eventually sold off separately in October 1995 to Consolidated Properties for $2.5 million, and then redeveloped for $4.5 million to create the Bankers Trust Centre.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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