In this issue of Brisbane Line, editor David Mayocchi invites your ideas and feedback on the plans to reinvigorate Australia’s New World City. Brisbane City Council’s consultation closes 31 October. Be sure to take this opportunity to have your say!

New World Identity Wanted

If national perceptions about Brisbane are often outdated, internationally the city is just not well known. That’s the view that was presented in Brisbane’s Unique Window of Opportunity, a report by the Lord Mayor’s Economic Development Steering Committee that considered how the city might leverage long term sustainable economic growth beyond the resources boom. The report identified three broad themes that could help improve Brisbane’s economic future and residents’ quality of life: leadership, growth and identity.

Industry forums highlighted the need for Brisbane to position itself more aggressively as the Australian hub for the Asia Pacific. It’s a position that Brisbane held briefly during World War II when General Douglas MacArthur moved the South West Pacific Area Headquarters into the city centre in 1942. That was a long time ago and the city’s recent branding as Australia’s new world city is an important step in defining Brisbane as “an emerging world city, a global hub for business, investment, conventions, education, world-class research, innovation, careers and lifestyle.”

You can read the Brisbane’s Unique Window of Opportunity report here.

Positioning the city as a vibrant cultural hub is seen as a key factor in promoting Brisbane. Improving key streetscapes in the CBD and the adjacent Fortitude Valley, allowing the Valley to realize its full potential as an accessible entertainment district and offering greater public access to the river were identified as ways of achieving this. Brisbane businesses favored a range developments that added to the city’s identity and lifestyle over construction of a built icon that might define the city.

The Brisbane City Council has incorporated these ideas into its Economic Development Plan 2012 – 2031. The plan promotes Brisbane as a river city and prioritises development of commercial, recreational and tourism opportunities on the river.

You can read the Brisbane Economic Development Plan summary here.

The Brisbane City Council is now developing a ten-year River’s Edge Strategy to help transform  the river’s edges, with the inner-city reach of the river from The University of Queensland at St Lucia to Northshore at Hamilton identified for improvement. As part of this process, Council is conducting a survey to determine what residents like to do by the river, what they would like to see more of. They’re also looking for your ‘big river idea’.

Complete the survey here by 31 October.

When the Brisbane Times ran a story on this initiative it attracted interesting comments. One resident highlighted the poor upkeep of the area along the Kangaroo Point cliffs in comparison with the well maintained South Bank Parklands. Another suggested the Council buy back floodable properties and open them up as riverside parkland. Some wondered if the river be made blue rather than brown (without the use of Photoshop). Better bike paths that are continuous, a flood museum and a small outdoor stage also featured in comments.

You can read the story and comments here.

Rivers are a feature of mature world-class cities, including Paris on the Seine, Rome on the Tiber and London on The Thames. Other world cities including Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai are major ports, with Sydney and San Francisco featuring major harbors and iconic bridges.

In the new world, US cities such as Pittsburgh, Portland and St Louis might be our closest rivals as river cities, however they are hardly well known internationally, despite the St Louis Arch (the tallest monument in the US). Have a look at these three American river cities here:

St Louis

Pittsburgh

Portland

Travel website TripAdvisor already ranks Brisbane’s River and riverside precincts highly in its list of attractions, with South Bank Parklands, the CityCat Ferry, Riverlife Adventure Centre, Lone Pine, the State Library of Queensland and the Brisbane River all among the top ten attractions. Other riverside attractions including QPAC, the Powerhouse, the Story Bridge, Queensland Maritime Museum, Eagle Street Pier, the Queensland Art Gallery and the Queensland Museum were also listed highly.

When Forbes magazine went looking for America’s hip neighbourhoods, it was the local things that made a difference, walkability, neighbourhood coffee shops per capita, good local food trucks, the number of farmers’ markets, locally owned bars and restaurants and the number of residents in artistic occupations.

You can see the list here.

The things that make a place hip are also those that make it distinctive, the things that local businesses bring to a city. Maybe these are the developments we need to encourage along the river?

Whatever you think, here’s your chance to put your ideas forward. What might help Brisbane achieve its identity as a major New World City? As always, we look forward to your comments and ideas in our comments section below.