A key riverside heritage site in Brisbane will soon undergo a comprehensive overhaul with the goal of creating a thriving retail, bar and dining district on prime city real estate.

HSW Consortium has won the tender for the Howard Smith Wharves Revitalisation project, a prime city riverside area packed with heritage buildings which has been left idle for the past several decades.

The rejuvenation project envisages the development of world class restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as a five-star boutique hotel and exhibition space, while simultaneously preserving the rich heritage character of the wharves site.

“The historic Howard Smith Wharves have been largely disused for decades and both Council and the Brisbane community wanted to ensure that any new development would give the heritage buildings a new lease of life,” said Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk. “The project will see these heritage buildings activated to accommodate a vibrant dining, retail and tourism centre, highlighting the area’s historic importance and preserving its rich legacy for future generations.”

According to Quirk, the project would make a pivotal contribution towards the establishment of a “vibrant, world-class waterfront destination to further enhance Brisbane’s position as a New World City.”

The project will be sparing in its development of structures from scratch, with new buildings occupying just 10 per cent of the site – the same percentage allocated to the preservation of historic wharf assets. The site will also be characterised by broad, open areas instead of packed, high-density developments, with public space and parkland occupying 80 per cent of the site.

“The Brisbane community told us they wanted to see lots of open space on this site and the HSW Consortium’s innovative design certainly delivers on this,” said Quirk.

In addition to open spaces, the redeveloped Howard Smith Wharves site will also feature dedicated pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as bike racks, park furniture, a kayak ramp and landscaped areas.

The site will come equipped with two new lifts and a flight of stairs providing direct access to the adjacent cliff tops, and will lie within close proximity to the newly built Riverwalk.

Work on the project will commence upon receipt of approval for development, with HSW Consortium set to submit an application within the next six months and a decision notice expected by the second half of 2015.

Should approval be granted, the HSW Consortium will be given three years for the development of the site.