More and more grade B commercial property is being left vacant, according to new research from the Property Council of Australia released on February 5. Announced as part of the Brisbane Office Market Report, CBD office vacancies reached an overall total of 15.6 per cent, a new high water mark. 

However, breaking this down further it becomes apparent where commercial space is being sought. The premium range of this type of property saw vacancy rates drop from 14.2 per cent to 9.1 per cent in the last six months, while secondary office space vacancies are now at 23 per cent.

"Brisbane must begin to consider potential options for conversion and adaptive reuse of older buildings into uses such as student housing, retirement living and hotel accommodation," said Chris Mountford, Queensland Executive Director for the Property Council. This is a statement worth taking on board for a great deal of industries, and opens a number of opportunities for outdoor spaces in the CBD with the appropriate architectural umbrellas and shade structures

Student accommodation on the rise

Following these calls, the Property Council's Queensland Division was pleased to hear calls from Brisbane City Council about incentivising development for more student accommodation in the CBD. This can attract many more people to the central areas of Brisbane, and with that the Property Council believes the vibrancy of public areas will improve.

Remembering that Queensland has one of the worst rates of skin cancer in the world, Cancer Council Australia has also highlighted that 430,000 more Australian adults are getting sunburnt on the weekend, compared to four years ago. A heightening of student accommodation in central Brisbane will require sturdy and safe shade structures to protect this increased population that is expected in the CBD. 

Architects of these spaces need to consider shade structures that will last for many years to come, and have a guarantee of quality in the long-term. This is where Skyspan™ can be particularly useful. We have a wide range of structures that have wind ratings superior to many competitors, as well as a wide range of sizes and customisable options that render our architectural-grade umbrellas an obvious option for providing sun smart CBD spaces. 

Commercial developments mean business

The other aspect that the Property Council suggested for the adaptive reuse of grade B office buildings was to turn these into hotels, which is another area requiring appropriate sun protection. As a December IBISWorld report highlighted, hotels and resorts are expected to account for $6.3 billion of Australia's tourism revenue in 2014-2015, more than any other sector. This suggests the renovation of office space into hotels in particular could be a lucrative option for Brisbane developers, introducing more outdoor luxury space. 

A new focus on international business events could also see the role of hotels in cities expand. An Australian Hotels Association release from January 15 urged for events tourism to become a mainstream issue for Queensland and New South Wales, seeing it as an opportunity to make up ground from the mining downturn.

An important part of this focus on tourism and student accommodation is keeping guests and students safe. Courtyards, outdoor areas of resorts and open-air business forums all require top-tier sun protection. Skyspan™ umbrellas have heat-reflective, UV-resistant membranes designed by a team of architects and engineers to last for the long-term.

Beyond this, warranties that last for up to 15 years mean that Skyspan™ structures will continue to be maintained, repaired and kept in top condition for as long as these hotels and hostels are around as well.