Gold Coast poised for milestone year

It’s only early in the New Year but things are looking bright for the Gold Coast as the city’s economy continues to improve.

Hotels have been bursting at the seams with record numbers of visitors coming to the Coast during the holiday period.

Just few days into the year we read in the local press that the $670 million upgrade to Pacific Fair has begun in earnest.

This is a massive investment in the city that underpins the confidence that major institutions such as AMP Capital have in the Gold Coast.

The property market, too, is looking strong with prices across the nation increasing in value by approximately 10 per cent last year, according to the ANZ.

ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan was quoted in the Australian Financial Review last week as saying Australia’s buoyant property sector was leading the broader economy out of the gloom of recent years.

Confidence is on the increase and Queensland is leading the way, according to the Property Council of Australia’s property industry confidence index.

This boost in confidence could see 2014 become a year of major milestones for the Gold Coast.

On the back of the completion of the $1 billion Griffith University Gold Coast Hospital last year, the region’s next major piece of infrastructure, the $1.2 billion light rail system, will be operational this year.

The first residential high rise project on the Glitter Strip – encompassing Broadbeach, Main Beach and Surfers Paradise – in more than six years, is set to begin with Singapore-based company Ho Bee Australia set to begin its much awaited project on the high profile Red Rooster site in northern Surfers Paradise.

Project construction is anticipated in the first half of this year and will be built in front of the Surfers North light rail station.

The project effectively marks the new cycle in the city’s residential high rise sector and is a welcome relief as residential apartment stocks dwindle following three years of strong sales activity in what was once an over-supplied market.

On the southern Gold Coast, two residential projects are already underway with Sanbano’s project at Coolangatta and the Brisbane-based Pikos Group having begun their beachfront high rise offering at Kirra.

Further south again, the $862 million upgrade of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale section of the Pacific Highway is due for completion this year south of the border.

This will effectively provide a dual carriageway between Ballina and the Gold Coast with the likely benefits mutually assured for both regions including the Tweed.

Where infrastructure improves, the developers tend to come.

Brisbane-based Reside Living making a ‘first mover’ play on the first waterfront project in Ballina for more than six years with a development application currently before the Ballina Shire Council for a $31 million residential apartment project.

The project will target the baby boomer market – a market that will capture the tranquillity of this pristine part of northern NSW with the likely influx of baby boomers looking to downsize from the rolling farmlands of the area and from areas like Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

This region, too, has benefitted from road enhancements such as the upgrade of the Pacific Highway, the $80 million expansion of the nearby Lismore Base Hospital, the creation of a new Homemaker Centre, a recently opened Bunnings and revamped Woolworths within the Ballina Fair Shopping Centre.

There are now direct daily flights between Sydney and Ballina, and one daily Jetstar flight to Melbourne – unlocking the region like never before.

“Whenever you see the big institutions investing heavily in these regions you know that things are on the move,” says Paul Broad, a property market analyst from Broad Property and Research Advisory.

“From an individual property investor’s perspective, these new activities certainly provide the necessary confidence to examine investment opportunities in these areas.

“The reality is that the Gold Coast and northern NSW are on the cusp of major change. This has been driven firstly from government investment in things such as highway infrastructure upgrades like what we have seen from the Tweed to Ballina, the light rail and shopping centre upgrades such as Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast.

“We are now seeing the next stage in our growth – the private development companies – local, national and international – beginning to make their play in these regions with the obvious confidence that all this recent investment has provided.

“It is a very exciting time for the Gold Coast and northern NSW as the area’s economy improves and more and more people move to these locations.”

More than 10,000 people a year alone have been moving to the Gold Coast since 2007 – during what has been a relatively benign period of economic growth.

And let’s not forget what the long term future holds for the Gold Coast with the Commonwealth Games now only four years away.

A major litmus test of the local residential market will come next week when the Ray White Surfers Paradise Group, Queensland’s largest real estate agency, stages its annual property auctions, The Event.

RWSP CEO Andrew Bell says 2013’s sales activity – where the group sold almost $1 billion in property – gives him enormous confidence heading into this year.

He said low interest rates, population growth and the improving tourism sector augured well for the local property market.

“The Gold Coast is still one of Australia’s fastest growing cities and this will continue to put pressure on the real estate market,” he says.