New apartment projects in close proximity to retail centres are becoming increasingly popular, writes David Aubrey.

Apartment buyers are flocking in large numbers to Brisbane’s retail hubs lured by the presence of an endangered species — a large apartment, big enough to live in yet at an affordable price.

Carindale, Indooroopilly, Upper Mount Gravatt, Chermside, Toombul and The Gap are all suburbs with major retail centres that have new residential developments in close proximity. These developments are offering apartments up to 25 per cent larger and 25 per cent cheaper than those that can be found in the inner-city.

Recent Chermside buyer Juliet Evans, an accountant working in the CBD, researched the inner-city market and found that her budget of $450,000 was in no man’s land between a one-bed and a two-bed apartment.

“In the Valley all I could afford was a one-bed or an extremely small two-bed with one bathroom but at Chermside I was able to buy a two-bed, two-bathroom apartment which was within my budget, nearly 100 square metres and just 100 metres walk to Westfield,” Evans says.

Architect Len Powe, principal of Powe Architects who designed the 32 apartment Village Residences adjacent to The Gap shopping centre in Brisbane’s north-west, explains that developments around retail centres were designed for owner-occupiers, thus space standards were higher.

“When we designed Village Residences we did so with the end-user in mind and we were pleased that investors also saw the value in buying in a primarily owner-occupied building so close to shops and public transport,” Powe says.

Inner-city apartment projects comprise onebeds which average about 50 square metres of internal area and 8 square metres balcony, with some being as low as 40 square metres with no balcony. They are generally priced from the late $300,000s to $450,000. By comparison, the soon to be released Woodstore Apartments—120 metres from Westfield at Chermside—offer one-beds at 71.8 square metres from $355,000 – a significant disparity in size and price.

Long time investor and businessman David Kinsey has been carefully watching the emergence of residential development near major retail centres.

“It makes sense,” Kinsey says. “Whether a buyer is an end-user or investor, he or she wants to buy in a building which is close to retail and public transport.

“The size and sheer value of these apartments make them a must-have for any investor’s portfolio.”

Principal of Ray White at The Gap James Monaghan says “at Village Residences, local buyers are attracted by the fact they will not have to get in their car every time they want to shop or just meet friends for a coffee.”

Apartments and retail have formed a strong symbiotic relationship which looks set to strengthen further over the coming years.