Push Grows for Housing for the Needy on Toombul Site

Efforts to revamp the site of the damaged Toombul Shopping Centre, which was severely affected during the February 2022 flood event, are gaining momentum with support from various quarters. 

The proposed transformation aims to create a vibrant precinct featuring social and affordable housing solutions, with significant implications for the Toombul community and Queensland. This initiative comes as a response to the growing need for affordable housing in the region.

Reflecting on his personal history, Premier Steven Miles mentioned his early employment at a café situated within the Toombul Shopping Centre and expressed his sentiment regarding its loss. Despite this, he underlined the potential of the site, particularly given its expansive size and proximity to a train station.

“It is a large piece of land with a train station – and that is exactly the kind of land that we want to see developed, and developed with affordability in mind and with a share of those properties to be social and public housing,” Mr Miles said. 

Mirvac to Reveal Toombul Shopping Centre Redevelopment Plans Soon
Photo Credit: Mirvac

Private Ownership and Governmental Collaboration

Notably, the land in question is privately owned by the developer Mirvac. Mr Miles welcomed Housing and Planning Minister Meaghan Scanlon’s commitment to collaborate with Mirvac. 

Minister Scanlon expressed her intent to utilise her planning powers and social housing budget to assist in this venture. The Premier emphasised the significance of granting the Housing Minister planning powers, which could provide her with the necessary flexibility to expedite development approval.

While Brisbane City Council approved the demolition of the Toombul Shopping Centre in 2023, the precise future of the site remains uncertain. Minister Scanlon has not yet met with Mirvac to finalise the transformation of the location into residential accommodation featuring social and affordable housing. 

However, she enthusiastically declared her readiness to present the proposal to the developer, citing the urgent need to address Queensland’s housing shortage. She also extended her willingness to engage with other developers interested in contributing to the cause.

Awaiting Mirvac’s Decision

A spokesperson for Mirvac stated that the company has not yet determined the future use of the once-iconic shopping centre. 

The fate of the Toombul site now hinges on the collaborative efforts of the state government, private developers, and local authorities as they seek to create a more inclusive and affordable housing landscape for Queensland residents.

Published 29-Jan-2024

Kmart Initiates $10 Million Lawsuit Against Mirvac, Alleging Breach Over Toombul Flood Closure

Retail giant Kmart Australia Limited (Kmart), a subsidiary of Wesfarmers, has filed a lawsuit against Mirvac Retail Sub SPV Pty Ltd and Mirvac Capital Pty Ltd, part of the ASX-listed Mirvac group, over the closure of Toombul Shopping Centre due to flood damage.

The lawsuit, which seeks $10 million in compensation, alleges that Mirvac breached their lease agreement by closing the shopping centre. This lawsuit unfolds 18 months after Toombul Shopping Centre’s closure was initially announced due to extensive flood damage.

The Lease Dispute: Kmart vs. Mirvac

Kmart contends that it had a valid lease agreement with Mirvac until February 2027. In the claim filed in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Friday, 15 Dec 2023, Kmart asserts that Mirvac should compensate them for the loss of profit that the discount department store would have earned during the lease period. 

They argue that this compensation should be based on the anticipated trading if the store had reopened after flood damage occurred on 25 and 27 Feb 2022.

Kmart further alleges that Mirvac’s estimate of the loss of profit during this time amounts to $13.4 million, reduced to $10.1 million in net present value.

According to Kmart, had the lease been in effect in April 2023, when Mirvac settled its insurance claim for flood damage, Mirvac would have breached the lease by not using the insurance payout to repair and rebuild the shopping centre.

Insurance and Repudiation: The Key Claims

Kmart’s lawsuit claims that Mirvac’s insurer had agreed to indemnify Mirvac concerning the flood damage. However, in April 2023, Mirvac informed Kmart that it had settled its insurance claim with insurer FM Insurance but could not disclose the dollar value due to confidentiality. 

Kmart had already accepted Mirvac’s repudiation of the Toombul lease on 8 Sept 2022 but maintained that Mirvac’s decision to permanently close the shopping centre constituted a significant loss due to repudiatory conduct.

Mirvac’s Decision and Future Plans

Mirvac, a prominent player in Australian real estate with a portfolio exceeding $11.9 billion, announced the permanent closure of Toombul Shopping Centre on 9 June 2022. 

CEO Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz cited extensive damage to crucial infrastructure such as electricity, fire, and escalators, along with the risk of future flooding, as reasons behind the decision.

Kmart asserts that Mirvac’s decision to close Toombul Shopping Centre represented an unequivocal intention not to fulfil its lease obligations, including using insurance funds to rebuild the centre. To date, no defence has been filed against Kmart’s claims, and a hearing date has not been scheduled.

Photo Credit: Google Maps

Future Developments: Toombul’s Transformation

Mirvac’s acquisition of the 9.9-hectare Toombul Centre in 2016 marked a significant investment. On 18 July 2023, Brisbane City Council approved Mirvac’s application to demolish the former shopping centre, including buildings, car parks, and shade sails. 

Post-demolition, Mirvac plans to create a temporary park in the southeast corner of the site and will fence it off until approvals for the new development, still in the design phase, are obtained. The approved plans include retaining the Toombul bus interchange and associated roads.

Kmart’s Financial Performance

Despite the legal battle surrounding Toombul Shopping Centre, Kmart performs well. In the 2022-2023 financial year, Kmart posted $8.3 billion in sales, representing a remarkable 22 per cent increase, while earnings at the Kmart Group, including Target, surged by 53 per cent. 

Furthermore, in August, Wesfarmers reported that Kmart’s sales growth remained strong at the beginning of the 2024 financial year.

Published 24-Dec-2023

Temporary Mobile Phone Base Station at Toombul Shopping Centre

Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus have jointly established a Temporary Mobile Phone Base Station within Toombul Shopping Centre’s car park. The telecommunication tower, situated near the former Coles click-and-collect area, aims to address the need to ensure effective mobile network coverage in the area.

The temporary station stands tall at 30 meters, equipped with antennas, ancillary tools, and cabinets on an elevated platform. Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus have indicated that this provisional infrastructure will operate until August 2024.

Photo Credit: Brisbane City Council / Development i A006248810

Mirvac, overseeing the site’s transformation, submitted plans for the shopping centre’s demolition in April 2023. The move follows the impact of the Brisbane floods in February 2022, which mandated the relocation of existing telecommunication facilities before demolition could commence.

According to SAQ Consulting, the installation of this temporary base station adheres to the Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Code C564:2020. It ensures continuous mobile phone coverage and network capacity for Nundah and its surrounding areas following the decommissioning of existing rooftop facilities.

Mirvac is committed to shaping the future of the site. Plans for the area’s redevelopment, including retail spaces, are in progress. However, specifics regarding the return of major retailers or the exact size of the shopping area remain undisclosed.

Updates on the demolition plans will be provided as they progress. Advance notice of work commencement and ongoing updates will be communicated as needed. For direct email updates on the demolition program, register online at toombulrenewal.com/register.

Published 14-December-2023

Toombul Shopping Centre Demolition Approved, Mirvac Commits to Future Retail in Redevelopment Plan

The flood-ravaged Toombul Shopping Centre has been given the green light for demolition, signalling the beginning of a new chapter for the shopping centre in Brisbane’s north.

The demolition process is expected to be a meticulous one, as the derelict structure will be taken down piece by piece rather than through a single blow. The decision comes after the site was left uninhabitable due to extensive flooding in February 2022, leaving lower levels submerged in water, causing severe damage and mould growth.

Mirvac’s development application to demolish all structures on the site was submitted in April 2023, and the Council’s approval on 19th July 2023 now paves the way for the commencement of demolition later this year. The company has not yet disclosed the exact start and completion dates for the demolition.

“We expect demolition to commence later in the year once the considerations noted above have been resolved. We will advise the community when we have a start date. The demolition program is estimated to take approximately 12 months to complete depending on progress and weather conditions,” the company said in a statement

Before the demolition begins, Mirvac must address several considerations, including the relocation of existing telecommunications towers and coordination with service providers like AirTrain to ensure the safety and efficiency of the demolition work near their infrastructure.

The task presents various complexities and environmental concerns due to the proximity of the creek corridor and residential areas. Mirvac assures the community that they will implement extensive measures to mitigate potential noise, dust, vibration, and traffic impacts.

Toombul’s community will be kept informed throughout the process, with a commitment from Mirvac to minimize impacts on residents and maintain access to nearby roads, bikeways, footpaths, the Kedron Brook bikeway, and the Toombul bus interchange.

What North Brisbane Locals Want

In January 2023, the company had previously sought input from thousands of locals about their preferences for the site’s redevelopment.

“We’re pleased to let you know we received almost 10,000 pieces of incredible feedback that have been carefully considered and will help inform our continued planning for the future of Toombul, along with planning outcomes and commercial considerations,” Mirvac stated

The company has taken note of three important points from the community: 

  • Shoppers are missing convenient local retail and services.
  • They want to see retail return to the site as a priority.
  • The community expects the site to have improved resilience to local flooding.

Respondents also indicated a desire for retail spaces, public green areas, and essential services, such as healthcare. Mirvac has confirmed that these elements will be included in the redesign, along with improved flood mitigation measures.

Mirvac’s vision for the site includes a focus on retail in any future plans. However, specific details, such as the inclusion of a supermarket, theatre, or major retailer, have not been ironed out. Concept plans and a master plan are expected to be made available for community review by the end of 2023.

As the demolition planning progresses, Mirvac pledges to keep the community informed with ongoing updates and provides an option for residents to receive direct email updates about the future demolition program by registering online.

The redevelopment of Toombul Shopping Centre holds the promise of revitalizing the area and providing much-needed retail amenities for the local community. With cautious and diligent planning, Mirvac aims to turn the flood-ravaged site into a vibrant and thriving hub once again.

Follow updates about the redevelopment via the Toombul Renewal official site.

Published 20-July-2023

Toombul Shopping Centre Update: Mirvac Lodges Plans for Demolition

Mirvac will soon proceed with pulling down the Toombul Shopping Centre more than a year after it was shut down due to severe flooding damage.

In a statement on the Toombul Renewal site, Mirvac announced that it has lodged the development application (DA A006248810) for the demolition. The developer expects the demolition to take place in late 2023 and will span 12 months to complete.  

“We will provide updates as our DA progresses, including a demolition start date,” the company announced. “Residents will receive advance notice of the start of works, and ongoing updates thereafter. If you would like to receive direct updates by email about the future demolition program, please register online at toombulrenewal.com/register 

Mirvac also said that future plans for the site have yet to be finalised and a masterplan will be out for review by the community at the end of the year. However, speculations point to a possible mixed-use site with a residential precinct.

The company bought Toombul Shopping Centre in 2016 for $223 million and adopted a $35-million upgrade in 2019. The February 2022 flooding, however, brought down the site’s value to $90 million because of the extent of the damage. In May 2022, the company said that the building was beyond repair. 

“The Council Planning team will be working closely with Mirvac to assess this application and provide a prompt response. This will allow Mirvac to commence demolition activities as quickly as possible to support renewal of the Toombul site,” Cr Adam Allan, the Council’s City Planning chair said.  

Meanwhile, the bus interchange and park and ride will remain open during the demolition, but with safety measures in place.

Published 13-April-2023

Mirvac Reveals Outcomes of Community Consultation for Its Toombul Renewal Plans

Locals do not want to see Toombul dominated by high-density residential development, nor do they want a much larger retail centre at the site, the outcomes of the Mirvac Toombul Renewal community consultation revealed.

In November 2022, Mirvac sought feedback from the community on what they would like to see for the future of the Toombul site. Members of the community were invited to participate in an online survey or at one of the four drop-in sessions held in Nundah, Wavell Heights and Clayfield.

The engagement program aims to identify the community’s needs and ensure that they remain informed on any updates or redevelopment plans for the Toombul site following the closure of the centre in 2022 due to flood damage. 

The outcomes of this community consultation, along with planning outcomes and commercial considerations will inform decisions about the future of the Toombul site.

Highlights of the Toombul Renewal community consultations include:

  • 96 per cent of stakeholders who participated in the online consultation identified as former Toombul customers
  • More than 85 per cent of respondents were from local postcodes
  • 88 per cent of respondents said they visited Toombul once a week or mor

Meanwhile, the community wants a mix of retail and services, flood resilience and mitigation, a mix of dining and entertainment options, enhanced open green and recreation space, and improved connections to public and active transport.

“The community want to see retail return, with loyalty to the former Toombul, while many are open to change and other complementary uses to extend community benefit at the site, including well-considered mixed-use.” Mirvac

Leanne Linard MP in a social media post said that “the results showed what we locals already know: we loved Toombul, and we want to see a mix of retail, services and green space back on-site.”

“We also want to know what’s next, and when.

“The key issues I raised on behalf of our community were the need for Mirvac to deliver ongoing communication of their forward plan, and the safety of local nearby residents when demolition commences.

“Next month will be one year since the loss of Toombul. We will continue to ensure our communities voice is represented in future decisions for the site.

Published 10-February-2023

Toombul Shopping Centre Redevelopment a Possibility, Community Will Have a Say

Photo Credit: Google Maps

Once plans are ready, community drop-in sessions will be held to provide opportunities for locals to have their say on plans for the redevelopment of Toombul Shopping Centre. This was Mirvac’s commitment after discussing the possibility of rebuilding the flood-damaged northside shopping precinct with local representatives.

Mirvac expects to come out with the redevelopment plans in the second half of 2023 but a concrete timeline has not been outlined just yet, according to MP Leanne Linnard who met with the company’s executives alongside MP Anika Wells in mid-October 2022. 

“Mirvac has confirmed … their commitment to retail, green-space, and ongoing access to public transport in any rebuild,” Ms Linnard shared

“We have also been advised that there will also be opportunities to attend drop-in sessions to provide your direct feedback on what you would like to see at the site.”

A spokesperson from Mirvac also confirmed that they will come up with a community consultation program and keep the public up to date, beginning with the shopping centre’s demolition to prepare for the rebuilding.

Northsiders have been asking Mirvac to reopen Toombul Shopping Centre following the February floods, especially with the approaching holiday season.

However, the damage from the floodwaters has resulted in moulds all over the building. According to reports, Mirvac has begun stripping these moulds, a process which is expected to go on for weeks.  

Meanwhile, PRAX Studio has come up with its own masterplan for Toombul Shopping Centre. The company said they are a “stakeholder in the future of Toombul” and thus wanted to engage the developer, Mirvac, by sharing their ideas about the future of the precinct.

Photo Credit: PRAX Studio

“Our masterplan vision for Toombul prioritises the community’s needs and desires while taking maximum advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver an open, green and accessible community heart for the enjoyment of future generations,” Prax Studio said. 

Photo Credit: PRAX Studio

“By advocating for the community and articulating a vision in which their views a better represented, our vision will contribute to achieving a development outcome that will be an enduring piece of public architecture befitting this wonderful site.”

Mirvac Doubles Payment for Eligible Toombul Shopping Centre Retailers

Some of the embattled shop owners of the flood-ravaged Toombul Shopping Centre will receive a further cash boost after Mirvac announced it will double their payments for eligible small businesses.

Mirvac chief executive Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz said that retailers with an annual turnover of less than $50 million a year will get another three months’ worth of rent payments on top of the three months’ rent payments already promised in June 2022.

Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz said that they have been meeting with these retailers, who communicated their challenging experiences after the February floods that shut down the Toombul Shopping Centre permanently. Mirvac’s decision to terminate the leases placed many of the retailers in debt.

The company determined that it was no longer practical to reinstate the site given its risks of immense flooding. Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz said that the flood caused significant damage to their electricity, electricity, fire and air-conditioning systems, lifts and escalators. Mould has also impacted the shopping centre, which was declared hazardous for people’s health. 

Toombul tenants
Meeting with tenants and lawyer Brian Noble
Photo Credit: LeanneLinardMP/Facebook

In June, Cr Adam Allan said that a decision was reached to demolish the existing shopping centre and construct a new one. 

“The site is zoned Major Centre zoning under the Brisbane City Plan 2014. This type of zoning provides for a wide range of uses including retail, commercial, residential, entertainment, government, residential care, retirement, and community uses to name some,” Cr Adam sad.

“While Mirvac are only in the early stages of their planning on the future of the site the uses above provide a high level guide of some potential uses.

“There will be some outcomes from the site that Brisbane City Council will be keen to see delivered or retained such as a bus interchange, public space, better connectivity, improved flood resilience, a better interface to Kedron Brook etc

“There will be many discussions between Council’s Development Services team and Mirvac over coming months as their plans for the site are formulated.”

Mirvac Offers Support Package for Toombul Retailers Equivalent to 3 Months’ Rent

Over 100 Toombul retailers are going to receive a support package from Mirvac following its decision to shut down the shopping centre permanently due to flood damage.

Mirvac CEO Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz said that the tenants will be compensated worth three months’ rent, alongside other measures already in place. The company has waived the debts incurred by Toombul retailers during the lockdowns and it has also not charged rent since the February floods.

Tenants have also received assistance with the removal of their fit-outs and stocks as Mirvac plans to demolish the property and rebuild it anew. Mirvac said that they are also in touch with other organizations with free spaces so their former tenants could move in.

Photo Credit: Kim Blair/Facebook

The support package is welcome news, after the criticism Mirvac received from the public for their initial announcement of no compensation for tenants. Some retailers have explored legal options in the face of looming financial ruin due to the closure of their businesses at the Toombul Shopping Centre

Darren Bain, the owner of Function Well, said that their lease has a demolition clause that underscored a “reasonable compensation” but Mirvac said there is another clause stating no compensation for “impracticable or undesirable” repairs. 

Prior to the announcement of the support package, Mirvac wasn’t able to attend the scheduled dialogue with the tenants and MPs Anika Wells and Leanne Linard. Ms Wells and Ms Linard have been calling on the property giant to engage with the local community. 

Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz said that she has been arranging meetings with the retailers in the coming days and has heard their frustrations. 

Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz’s full statement below:

Tenants Still Hoping to Meet With Mirvac Over Planned Demolition of Toombul Shopping Centre

Tenants of Toombul Shopping Centre have expressed disappointment at the cancellation of a requested meeting with Mirvac to discuss previously announced plans to demolish the shopping centre.

The meeting was originally scheduled to take place via Zoom on 7 June 2022. However, not all the Mirvac attendees were available so the meeting did not push through as originally planned

In a statement, MP Leanne Linnard said that she and MP Anika Wells will keep trying to engage with Mirvac for the tenants, who were told that they will not likely receive compensation for losses as a result of the February 2022flood that has rendered the shopping centre too badly damaged. 

They have also arranged for the tenants to receive pro bono legal advice on compensation from Brian Noble of Noble Advice. So far, 10 retailers have reached out to discuss the  Retail Shop Leases Act. 

Prior to the scheduled meeting, Cr Adam Allan stated that Mirvac has decided to completely demolish Toombul Shopping Centre.

“I met with Mirvac executives last week to have an initial discussion about their plans. There will be many discussions between Council’s Development Services team and Mirvac over coming months as their plans for the site are formulated,” Mr Allan said. 

“The site is zoned Major Centre zoning under the Brisbane City Plan 2014.

“This type of zoning provides for a wide range of uses including retail, commercial, residential, entertainment, government, residential care, retirement, and community uses to name some.

“While Mirvac are only in the early stages of their planning on the future of the site the uses above provide a high level guide of some potential uses.”

No Rent Collection

Meanwhile, Mirvac said that rents and other expenses were not collected from the traders since the February flood and their debts, including those incurred during the COVID closures, have been waived. The company has also not charged retailers for the cost to de-fit and remove their stocks and store equipment and furniture. 

Mirvac also said it has been coordinating with each of the retailers on the ongoing issues at hand. 

Some tenants have relocated to other vacant sites in Ascot, Taigum, Stafford, Lutwyche, and Newstead. However, for many locals, Toombul was always the hub where everyone could shop and run errands and where the retailers have become longtime friends.