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Up, up and away: The Brisbane Airport Corporation has a bold vision for a dedicated automotive precinct adjacent the city’s busy international airport.

Brisbane Airport set to expand retail footprint to include dedicated car retail zone

5 Jun 2015

CAR retailing in Queensland is set for a major overhaul as Brisbane Airport looks to attract car dealers to a new precinct that includes a test track within a purpose-built 50-hectare facility.

The Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) – part of the airport’s property management arm (BNE Property) portfolio for non-aviation development – plans to bring together dealers from across the Brisbane area to create the “all-encompassing automotive precinct” that will include dealerships, servicing, related retail and offices in the one location.

The BAC is seeking expressions of interest within the next two months for a joint-venture partner for the development, with a completion timeframe over the next three years once a suitable partner comes on board.

BAC chief executive officer and managing director Julieanne Alroe said if the project became a completed reality, the 50-hectare Auto Mall concept would be an Australian first and would release inner-city land holdings for development.

“Having an automotive precinct at the airport frees up prime real estate in the inner-city areas, providing further options for developers and residents,” she said.

Included is a test track designed by former V8 Supercar driver Mark Skaife, who said the track helps take a dedicated automotive retail area adjacent to a city airport (like Melbourne’s Essendon Fields) to another level.

“Having the ability to test drive a new vehicle along a track is such a unique concept and something I am really excited to be a part of,” he said.

“Being able to drive a car straight from the showroom onto a purpose built test track without having to wait at traffic lights and sit in congestion is fantastic – you don’t even have to be a car fanatic to appreciate that,” he said.

Mr Skaife said the test track has potential for a variety of other uses, with the plans also allowing for an offroad track for the site.

“The test track offers a safe environment for driver training and education programs and can also be used for events such as car launches and car club activities.”“The precinct has huge potential for a range of uses, including a 4WD test track earmarked for stage two of the concept,” he said.

Mr Skaife also said the “Auto Mall” would reshape Brisbane’s fragmented retail automotive industry and reiterated Ms Alroe’s suggestion that it could satisfy some demand for inner-city residential developments.

The airport district is already home to more than 400 businesses employing over 20,000 staff, as well as funnelling more than 22 million passengers into the state each year.

Agents JLL Queensland’s managing director Geoff McIntyre said the site presents a unique opportunity in the Australian market and that initial feedback from the automotive industry has been “very positive”.

“The Auto Mall is a bold vision, but the opportunity is real, you only have to look at projects like Essendon Fields or Docklands to see how a visionary concept can transform a large metropolitan area into an innovative destination,” he said.

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