The strip gets a brand new vibe
YOU can almost smell money in the main urban hubs of the Gold Coast - or at least get a strong whiff of concrete and steel. Behind each crane poking through the city skyline is an announcement of yet another hefty investment into a luxury hotel, apartment block or leisure development.
The last three years alone have seen the construction of the soaring Q1 apartment resort, Circle on Cavill residential and leisure complex, and Chevron Renaissance towers at Surfers Paradise - just to name a few.
One- by- one, the tacky legacies of the 80s tourist boom are being razed and replaced by these stateof- the- art skyscrapers.
Most recently, the old Dolphin Arcade has made way for the construction of Raptis Group’s Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel and Residences.
The dual tower, $ 700 million development will house approximately 170 luxury hotel rooms and 340 apartments.
Nearby, Juniper Group is preparing the foundations of the $ 850 million, 77- storey Soul apartments on the former Raptis Plaza site.
On the theme park front, Macquarie Leisure continues to invest tens of millions of dollars in new rides at Dreamworld and WhiteWater World, as does Warner in its four theme parks.
Gold Coast tourism spokesman, Ben Pole, says the willingness of high- profile developers to throw their money at the Gold Coast speaks volumes about the region’s promise.
We’re really commanding some respect for these large nationals and multi- nationals to be investing so much into infrastructure in the commercial heart,’’ he says. ‘‘ Just in commercial development there’s $ 66 billion being injected over 2007 and 2008 on the Gold Coast.’’
Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and the business district of Southport are at the receiving end of most of the cashflow. ‘‘ There has been a real change to the face of Surfers,’’ Mr Pole says. ‘‘ It’s a precinct which used to be predominately souvenir shops and T- shirt shops being transformed into high- end fashion brands and exceptional retail outlets.
Then we have Broadbeach - we’ve got these two cosmopolitan centres adjacent to each other.’’
Further feeding the cosmopolitan feel is the growing residential population within the city centre.
According to KPMG’s 2007 Population Growth Report, the Gold Coast experienced a net population increase of 17,374 over 12 months to 507,439 permanent residents as of June 30, 2006, making it the fastest- growing region in Australia.
As director of Pacific Lifestyle Property, Luke Woollard handles sales for many prestigious Gold Coast developments. He says a large proportion of their luxury apartment purchasers are suburban downsizers: They have sold their family homes, done well for themselves and are looking for something more luxurious.’’ While primarily Queenslanders, there are a fair few interstate purchasers, particularly those relocating from Victoria. Many of the developments are also attracting overseas purchasers, especially from the UK, Dubai, South Africa, Asia and New Zealand.
As the South East Asia region continues to boom, with the Gold Coast being the jewel in Australia’s crown they are not only coming for holidays and leisure stays, but that’s also being followed by investment,’’ Mr Pole says.
With the growth in its urban residential population, Gold Coast developers are seeing the value in including a residential component in new hotels and commercial spaces.
On top of their luxurious design and fixtures, these hotel condos and resort- style apartments offer permanent residents access to services such as valet parking, housekeeping and even hotel meals delivered to their apartment.
The speedy uptake of apartments in the Hilton is typical of that across the board.
Since the first stage of the development was launched late last year, sales have already reached $ 120 million, with prices for one- bedroom and twobedroom apartments starting at $ 628,000 and $ 718,000 respectively.
And, unlike 10- 15 years ago when privatelyowned apartments were largely used for holiday rentals, 75 per cent of the Hilton apartment purchasers intend to be owner- occupiers.
Niecon’s Oracle is also being speedily snapped up.
To be built at Broadbeach, it will include around 500 residential apartments, commercial offices and shops.
Hundreds have already been sold, with prices ranging from $ 680,000 for one- bedroom plus study apartments, through to $ 1,905,000 for threebedroom ‘‘ sky homes’’.
But Mr Woollard says not everyone likes the idea of living in a hotel: ‘‘ There are far more exclusive residential- style apartments coming up now. ‘‘ We’re seeing more small and boutique- style developments. ‘‘ Those with 15 or as little as seven apartments in the development have certainly become more common, particularly on the southern Gold Coast.’’
Ivory Burleigh Beach, for example, has only 13 apartments over 10 levels. Nirvana at Kirra Beach is a little larger, with 60 apartments spanning its 15 levels.
Of course, with the greater exclusivity comes an even greater price tag.
A two- bedroom apartment at Nirvana start from $ 1,195,000, while a three- bedroom fetches upwards of $ 3,540,000.
As buildings - and their prices - soar ever- more skyward, Mr Pole denies the Gold Coast will become an exclusively high- end destination: One of the values of the Gold Coast is the diversity. It’s not going to stick with the trashy look and feel of the Gold Coast 10 years ago but will maintain that ability to cater to every market. The more recent developments in the key cosmopolitan areas are up there as far as international standards go.
But there’s also another 50 odd kilometres of coastline with places like Currumbin and Coolangatta. These are populated by all levels of accommodation and totally accessible products,’’ Mr Pole says.