Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin
MEGA RICH’S SANDS OF TIME
In 30 years, the Sovereign Islands experienced two financial meltdowns, celebrity buyers and a $45m asking price
THE creation of the Sovereign Islands was a watershed moment for the Gold Coast’s north, as it was the first suburb aimed entirely at the luxury market.
From the day it was proposed in the mid-1980s, the Paradise Point mega development was awash in money and big dreams: an ultra-exclusive enclave with some of the nation’s most astonishing houses, all of which carry eyewatering price tags.
In the second and final part of our series on the Sovereign Islands, we look at how the suburb went from sand to a modern-day community.
The first house built on the former sand island in mid-1988 was expected to fetch more than $1.6m.
That was a substantial price tag at the time, with Hedges Ave, the Gold Coast famous Millionaire’s Row, not recording prices of that size until 2000.
By mid-1989, construction was completed on the area’s village centre, including a 15m observation tower overlooking the Broadwater and a 35berth marina.
But even as it took shape, the development remained highly controversial with local residents inundating local Alderman Alan Rickard with complaints.
Ald Rickard himself was opposed to the project and said Sovereign Islands would reduce by a third the area of the Broadwater.
“I believe the Broadwater is like a public park and should be treated as such,’’ he said in 1989, adding that he was saddened that the Sovereign Islands, formerly known as Andy’s and Griffin Island, had turned the area into a construction zone.
But these protests amounted to nothing and sales continued apace at the dawn of the 1990s when more than $18m of property had already changed hands.
In mid-1990 alone Lewis Land Corporation (LLC) sold $4.4m worth of stock in just 10 weeks.
Sales records continued to tumble as a Swiss businessman spent $2.5m on a block of land.
But, like the rest of the Gold Coast, the Sovereign Islands was hit hard by the early 1990s recession and LLC hit the pause button on the project and held off new sales or construction.
The neighbouring Ephraim Island project was also hit hard, with Japanese company Alpha Corporation losing more than $50m after being forced to sell it.
Once envisaged as an equally decadent location, it spent the early 1990s regarded as “one of the greatest follies
on the Gold Coast” because the only element to be completed was “a bridge to nowhere”.
“Once a natural setting for mangroves and birdlife Ephraim Island is now little more than a cleared piece of land in the middle of the Broadwater,” News Corp reported at the time.
“The bridge was built in the late 1980s but since then has stood as a lonely testament to developments on the Gold Coast that went sour and the huge amounts of money spent that have left what appear to be tourism follies.”
Favourable economic conditions returned by late 1994 and LLC took Sovereign Islands
back to market, releasing more than $10m worth of land, space for 131 homes.
By the dawn of the Millennium the Sovereign Islands had become one of the state’s most sought-after addresses, with one mansion going on the market for $8m.
Overseas buyers particularly were focused on the area, though the early 2000s saw several famous faces make it their home, including billionaire businessman Clive Palmer, motorsports legend Dick Johnson and conman Peter Foster all moving in.
By 2001, more than $86m had been spent on property on the island in a decade.
While the area was notchClare
ing up sales records, construction continued on the remaining stages of the project throughout the 2000s.
Among the most notable mansions on the island was 26 Knightsbridge Parade East, a giant six-bedroom “super mansion” that had been on track to be completed by 2010. Then the global financial crisis hit and it sat there unfinished for almost a decade.
It was made famous when it sold in an unfinished state for $5.3m by Perth engineer Ric Rizzi at a mortgagee auction in 2013.
The price was considered a bargain after the previous owners, accountant
Marks and her lawyer husband Scott Tyne, outlaid $21.44m on the initial construction and four blocks of land.
The pair were evicted after court action in Australia and Singapore following defaulted payments to the tune of more than $11m.
Now complete, it was put on the market in 2019 for $45m.
With the Gold Coast’s real estate market booming once again, Sovereign Islands are again back in the spotlight, as cashed-up buyers snap up the few remaining blocks of land.