Investment in a range of infrastructure development projects is driving unprecedented urban growth on the Sunshine Coast and will ultimately transform our popular tourist town into a highly liveable city.
It’s no secret that property prices are directly linked to housing demand, which in turn is driven by factors such as proximity to key amenities and services like public transport, schools, shopping, recreation areas and hospitals.
That’s why spending on major infrastructure, particularly in regional areas, is so important when it comes to long-term capital growth and rental demand – the more quality services there are, the more desirable the area and, therefore, the higher the rental yield and resale value of your property.
At the moment, the Coast is in overdrive. Developers, governments and corporations are all investing heavily, with an array of major infrastructure projects either underway or in the planning stages to help support the region’s growth.
“Projects totalling more than $20 billion have transformed the Sunshine Coast from a tourist town to an international city and it currently has one of the strongest property markets anywhere in Australia,” says property observer Terry Ryder.
In 2017, insurance company Youi moved its global headquarters to Sippy Downs. Construction of Australia’s largest medical precinct, in Birtinya, is now in its final stages. And the rapidly expanding Sunshine Coast Airport – which added a new runway last year – has launched a bid to relocate Qantas’s head office here.
Last week, local media ran an informative piece on the region’s urban-growth projects across industry sectors such as health care, roads, education and tourism. I’ve highlighted some of the more relevant ones below.
Vitality Village: Situated in the $5 billion Sunshine Coast Health Precinct – the largest of its kind in the country – this multipurpose health and wellness hub will provide aged care, allied health, disability and specialist support services to the community, plus leadership, training, technology and innovation services. It’s scheduled to open in June this year at a cost of $25 million.
Nambour General Hospital: An $86 million redevelopment will see the expansion of the hinterland hospital’s capacity and the upgrading or refurbishing of existing clinical areas, including emergency care, mental health beds, surgical and medical wards, and a rehabilitation unit. The last stage is due for completion by late 2022.
Above: Sunshine Coast University Hospital forms part of the $5 billion mega health precinct
Mooloolaba Foreshore: Designed to encourage an “active and healthy” lifestyle, this waterfront revitalisation project will deliver a kilometre of parkland, recreational and event spaces, as well as a new seawall. The highlight is a scenic coastal boardwalk from the northern end of the foreshore to Alexandra Headland. Expected completion is mid-2021.
Maroochydore City Centre: Set to be built on a 53-hectare greenfield site, the Sunshine Coast capital’s new CBD will feature world-class commercial, residential and community facilities, including office space, retail, public plazas, dining and entertainment, waterways and parks, apartment complexes, a high-end hotel, and convention and exhibition space. Predicted to generate $2.5 billion in investment, the premier says “Maroochydore’s new city centre will cement the Sunshine Coast as one of Queensland’s, and Australia’s, best-performing regional economies.”
Invigorate Resort and Actventure Water Park: This proposed 14-hectare resort complex and tourist attraction – Queensland’s third largest water park – boasts 160 four-star villas, a microbrewery, farm-to-table experiences, a wellness centre, open-air cinema, sports club, indoor gaming arcade and a range of swimming pools. Developer Sanad Capital anticipates the project will create hundreds of jobs and pump about $41 million into the Sunshine Coast economy over the next two years, attracting well over 200,000 visitors to the region per year. The opening is set for 2023.
Bruce Highway Upgrade: This major freight, commuter and tourism route is part of Queensland’s largest road infrastructure program to date. Designed to reduce traffic congestion, increase capacity, improve safety and provide active transport connections, the $813 million project involves upgrading the highway to six lanes between Caloundra Road and the Sunshine Motorway, including improvements to both interchanges and a new two-way service road. Residents of the Harmony residential development in Palmview have use of a 240-vehicle car pool facility (opened in late 2017) that will eventually connect to bus facilities, local businesses and the Aussie World precinct via a new pedestrian path. A direct connection between the highway and Harmony estate is also in the works. Construction is expected to end by mid-2021.
Aura: Within three decades, Stockland’s $5 billion masterplanned community will house 20,000 residents in a “city” the size of Gladstone, along with retail precincts; business hubs; parks, playgrounds and sports fields; education and learning centres; entertainment spaces; medical facilities; and a 200-kilometre shared cycle-path network. A 90-hectare City Centre and South Bank-style People’s Place is also slated for construction. Located at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, it’s 30km from the airport, 90km from Brisbane’s CBD and a short drive to the beaches of Caloundra. So far, more than 5000 people call Aura home and last year saw the opening of the $33 million Baringa retail district and a state primary school; the suburb’s first high school will open its doors in January. Stockland promises to generate 20,000 new jobs in the next 15 years, while contributing $1.5 billion per year to the local economy.
Plantation Retirement Resort: Over-50s will be catered for at a 42-unit, seven-level “vertical village” close to Maroochydore Beach, with the first residents moving in in May. Facilities include a rooftop pool, barbecue and entertaining area, with parklands, a shopping village, aquatic centre, bowls and tennis clubs nearby. Sunshine Plaza is a short drive or bus ride away.
Aria hotel, Mooloolaba: After a years-long DA process, the council approved Mooloolaba’s first five-star hotel in 2019. Brisbane-based Aria Property Group is behind a game-changing $350 million integrated development at No. 1 The Esplanade, which comprises a 139-room hotel, 66 residential apartments and a retail and dining precinct. A day spa, conference facilities and rooftop bar and restaurant are also planned. Sales should start in late 2021, with the project breaking ground in early 2022.
Baringa and Palmview schools: Classes for years 7 and 8 students at Baringa State Secondary College will commence on 27 January, with capacity to expand to 2000 years 7 to 12 students by 2025. The Caloundra South high school is the first for the huge Aura residential development by Stockland. In January, the co-located Palmview State Primary School and Palmview State Special School will also open at the growing Harmony village – bringing the total number of new schools on the Coast to three, with more to come. The Queensland government said it was delivering much-needed education infrastructure to “some of the fastest-growing regions in the state”.
Above: Baringa State Primary School opened last year at Aura.
Anyone who has bought in the area – or is thinking about it – should be reassured by the investment dollars that have been flowing into the Sunshine Coast and will continue to do so for decades to come.