Fast forward six years since the Commonwealth Games announcement and the Gold Coast is a very different place.
With a history of big property booms and equally massive busts, the Gold Coast is renowned for having one of the most volatile property markets in the country. But post GFC it appears to be a different city.
Since 2008 the Gold Coast population has grown approximately 22% to almost 600,000, with continual growth from interstate migration – particularly from Sydney and Melbourne. Families seek out the Gold Coast for its affordable housing, quality education and enviable lifestyle with safe surfing beaches, lush parklands and a growing cafe culture.
But population growth must be supported by jobs. So with the view to assisting jobs growth during some of the darkest days of the GFC, we successfully bid to become the host city for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This was quickly supported by the announcement of the city’s first major public transport infrastructure, the Gold Coast light rail. Two major pieces of infrastructure that would help lift employment across both private and public sectors.
Fast forward six years since the Commonwealth Games announcement and the Gold Coast is a very different place. No longer struggling in the wake of the GFC, the Gold Coast is a thriving city. Office vacancies have fallen from 24% to 10%, we’ve seen a major uplift in retail with nearly $1billion being spent in the redevelopments of Robina Town Centre and Pacific Fair, and we’ve experienced a significant growth in tourism, both domestic and international. With Gold Coast Airport now receiving direct flights from South East Asia, China, Japan and New Zealand, with more international flights expected in 2018, we’re well and truly amongst Australia’s biggest tourist hot spots, which has in turn bumped up demand for accommodation.
Infamous for its high-rise skyline which attributed to some of the Gold Coast’s property crashes, the banks have helped smooth out the cyclical nature of our real estate market due to their conservative lending criteria. We’ve not seen anywhere near the levels of high-rise developments that have occurred in the past – and don’t expect to again. Currently the only major residential project under construction is the beachfront, three-tower Jewel development by Chinese company, Wanda Group, due for completion in 2019. This decrease in construction has seen residential vacancy rates drop to around 1.5%, resulting in a significant shortage in rental accommodation and an urgent need for future supply in the very near term.
Health and education are new areas of focus, heavily supported by the Government, with the opening of the Griffith University and University Hospital in 2013. With health and education at the fore, our world class facilities are now leading the way into the research of major diseases with some of Australia’s best known academics in residence.
But will the city’s newfound prosperity be at risk after hosting the Commonwealth Games? We don’t think so. The Gold Coast has found its feet through strategic infrastructure investment, strengthening its local economy and curbing its development. These changes aren’t flash-in-the-pan quick fixes, but sustainable initiatives that will see us through 2018 and beyond.
No longer just focused on tourism and construction, the new Gold Coast is for families, for affordable housing and for secure, long-term employment. And with temperate weather and beautiful beaches, the city continues to promote itself as Australia’s lifestyle region. The Gold Coast will always be known by the rest of Australia as the glitter strip, but the underlying business confidence going forward post Commonwealth Games is one of great optimism.