This post was written in collaboration with and sponsored by West Village.
One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning is to head to the West End markets for breakfast and fresh food. I laze under the trees with a bagel and a coffee, while my boys run around the park. We buy our fruit and vegetables from the market holders and stop for a chat or to listen to the buskers. Sometimes we will wander up the street and check out new shops that have opened. Because there is always something new and evolving in West End.
Brisbane is a growing, vibrant city and with that comes change. The Brisbane of today is far cry from the Brisbane of my childhood. I’m happy about that. I’m happy that I can walk down the street and get a great coffee. That I don’t have to travel interstate to access wonderful fashion. Brisbane is making it’s mark as a grown-up city and eventually we will have to admit it’s not longer a country town.
Change can feel scary as well as exciting. The West Village development in West End is one of those exciting changes that Brisbanites are approaching with caution. I spoke to the developers, curious as to how this new chapter in Brisbane’s story will look. And I’m pretty excited by the answers.
How large is the development?
The development is 2.6 hectares in total, with 9 apartment buildings and two heritage buildings that will be revitalised for retail and commercial space. There will also be some townhouses meeting the street at the site’s edges.
There will be over 40 retailers, with a mix of bars and restaurants. It will include a market run by multiple local producers inspired by places like the Barcelona markets, or Eataly in New York. There will also be boutiques and services like a medical centre, a gym and a full line supermarket.
It’s hard to say exactly who the retailers will be at this stage, as the retail space is still being leased. However, the selection will be carefully curated to add to the vibe of West End and create a buzzing atmosphere at West Village.
What used to be in the site? What’s there now?
The site used to be the Peter’s Ice Cream Factory, which was a large employer in West End and comprised some beautiful older factory buildings. Sadly, the iconic ice cream factory building has been covered over in recent years and lost a lot of its charm. That’s a big part of the project – restoring it to the centerpiece it should be. There used to be a garden in front of the factory – never a park but an ornamental garden to ‘beautify’ the factory. That space will be restored in the redevelopment, but this time will be a park open for the public to enjoy.
The Ice Cream Factory and the Ice Cream Cone Factory are heritage buildings and are really important to the project. The Ice Cream Cone Factory building has already had the exterior restored, and now houses the display suite. It’s a beautiful building – worth checking out just to admire the architecture!
In recent years the site has been home to Absoe, who sell new and used office furniture. It’s long been quite an industrial site, so we’re thrilled to see it revitalised into something exciting for the whole neighbourhood.
How will the village incorporate the “feel” of West End and preserve its particular vibe?
Sekisui House Australia prides itself on creating better homes and communities. From the beginning, it has been a clear part of the brief that West VIllage had to be connected with the neighbourhood. That’s why the laneways have been incorporated – West Village is designed to integrate with the diverse retail offering in the surrounding areas, especially Boundary Street.
West End is a multicultural dining, shopping and nightlife hotspot. West Village has taken that global neighbourhood ethos of West End, as well as inspiration from some of the best communities and retail spaces in the world – the laneways of Melbourne, nightlife of New York’s meatpacking district, European style plazas and the seamless integration of modern design and historic buildings of Copenhagen – whilst of course looking at what makes West End unique. There will be a feast of international dining options – complementing those that regularly draw crowds to West End as well as open, inviting spaces where events and festivals can be held.
Will the village improve access to other parts of West End – will it link them together?
With Boundary street being the hub of the suburb, it was important to open up to the street and invite the community in, hence creating the park right on the street front lined with restaurants, cafe’s and bars – they are a natural extension of the dining and retail options already there. We’re also connecting Boundary, Wilson, Little Jane and Mollison streets together – you’ll be able to walk from Mollison Green through to Boundary Street Common then through to Wilson street via Wilson lane. Little Jane Lane is also a new pedestrian only connection between Mollison and Little Jane streets that didn’t exist before.
There will also be a 450 space public car park underneath the site, which will relieve existing pressure on street parking and draw even more people to easily enjoy what West End has to offer.
How will the village bring jobs to the West End community?
The project will create 2,400 construction jobs and 860 permanent jobs. West Village will have over 40 retailers, one of which is a full line supermarket, plus services like a gym, medical centre, childcare and the marketplace.
There is also a small amount of commercial space, some of which will be a dedicated co-working space, in which we hope many (currently) small companies can grow and thrive.
There will be plenty of space for regular events, and a thriving community arts program is in the works (including community and art spaces). There is also going to be a childcare centre, which is a big plus for young families as there is huge demand for childcare from those who live and work in the local area.
During construction, we are also incorporating an on-site school of construction, helping to train apprentices and give practical experience, in partnership with Hutchison builders.
How much of the space will be public / green?
In total, 30 percent of the site will be publicly accessible, and nearly 50 percent of the site will be covered in vegetation. The development has two parks – Boundary Street Common and Mollison Green, plus all of the laneways and connecting areas (as well as some of the rooftops and podium levels for residents) have been carefully curated in terms of green space by our brilliant landscape architects, RPS Group.
Most of the outdoor space on the site is open to the public, 24/7. There will also be cycle linkages throughout the site. Environmental impact has been a huge focus from day 1 – the site will achieve a 5 star Green Rating, have 1600 cycle spaces, electric car charging stations and a car share scheme incorporated.
Where in Brisbane feels a little like the West Village will feel?
West Village is a truly unique site. There is nothing like it in Brisbane, although you could draw a few comparisons to places like the James St market for the retail/marketplace, The Powerhouse for the community/arts focus and the beautiful integration of heritage buildings with modern architecture, and some of the laneways popping up around the city. West End is a unique suburb that deserves a unique offering based on its qualities and attractions.
Brisbane is developing and that’s a wonderful thing. There might be some growing pains, but in the end, she’s becoming something beautiful and unique. I am so excited by the thought of more child care available in the inner city, the green focus of this development and the on-site school of construction. The developers careful incorporation of the West End culture should result in something quite special. I, for one, can’t wait to see it.
Are you excited by any new developments in your area?