AGEING Southport shopping centre Australia Fair is poised for a major makeover, possibly as early as next year, but the property owner is first planning to spend $15 million on a makeover of the western wing to capitalise on the proposed new Chinatown precinct.
YFG Shopping Centres, which has owned Australia Fair for 13 years, plans to rejuvenate Australia Fair West, the original core of the Australia Fair complex, into a new dining precinct that will be home to what it describes as an “eclectic mix of retailers and dining options”.
The new-look western wing, to be renamed Australia Fair Metro, will incorporate more public open space designed to create a “relaxed coastal atmosphere”.
Australia Fair centre manager Malcolm Miller says work is due to start in November, and he says the “buoyancy” surrounding Southport could give rise to an overhaul of the remainder or Australia Fair soon.
“The light rail and the work that’s been done in Chinatown has given the owners the confidence to go ahead with this (development).
“We’ve got its big sister over the other side and hopefully it will give us confidence to perhaps start looking at doing things over there as well in the near future.”
Southport councillor Dawn Crichlow indicated that plans are already in place for a complete overhaul of Australia Fair, but further details were not disclosed.
Crichlow says the timing is right for the first stage of the development, which will be completed by April.
The work goes to tender in September in what is the first major refurbishment of Australia Fair West centre since it was built in the 1980s.
“We’ve been an integral part of the Southport region for many years,” says Miller.
“It’s a vibrant area, and this project will enhance it and add greater choice for both locals and visitors.
“We want to create a dining precinct with an eclectic mix of restaurants and shops that complement the work that the council has done in Chinatown.”
Miller says YFG Shopping Centres has undertaken extensive research to determine the best tenancy mix for the new development, and he is confident the leasing campaign will produce a strong response.
He says the light rail has brought more foot traffic through Southport.
“We’ve noticed a buoyancy around the place, which has been a long time coming."
Mayor Tom Tate says the refurbishment is another sign of confidence in the Gold Coast and a boost for the city’s jobs market.
“With this commitment from Australia Fair we will create a world-class Chinatown and reinforce Southport as a key business, dining and retail hub.
“It will enhance and make it more of a complete precinct. The timing is right and we are pushing ahead well with Chinatown. The hard work is done, the infrastructure is completed and it should go up relatively quickly.”
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