THE northern Gold Coast received a much-needed economic boost today with the construction launch of Essence Property Group’s $20 million Harbourside Market at Biggera Waters.

Gold Coast City Councillor Grant Pforr joined developer Essence Property Group co-director Chris Giufre (pictured) at the 7400sqm Oxley Road site that the company purchased for $9 million in October 2009.

Situated opposite Harbour Town Shopping Centre, the hospitality and retail precinct is due for completion by late next year and will house coffee shops, restaurants and various produce outlets.

After the success of Westfield’s Helensvale Town Centre and the anticipated Coomera Town Centre project, Giufre says the project will put Biggera Waters back on the map.

“We’ve been looking for a while to set up a market, but you need the right population, demographics and traffic flow. With 30,000 cars a day travelling on Oxley Drive, this site had all the attributes for that,” he says.

“We wanted to create a food hub and a precinct for people to be able to come to dine and shop at the Northern end of the Gold Coast and to bring a level of produce that we felt was lacking on the Gold Coast.

“There is a lot of European influence in the development but we also aren’t forgetting the local producers of the area and we will be bringing a lot of Australian produce into the market.”

The construction launch comes as figures released by the by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today indicates more bad news for Queensland’s property development sector.

The ABS results show approvals for new dwelling constructions has dropped below 2000 per month for the first time since June 2009.

A statement by Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Queensland says there is a nine month lag between the reported decline in approvals and the market impact – meaning the construction sector is bracing itself for a drop off in employment.

Master Builders director of housing policy Paul Bidwell, says tourism cities like the Gold Coast and Cairns are the most adversely affected and the ABS figures ‘confirm that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) made the wrong decision on Melbourne Cup day’.

“We are yet to even see the November increase in interest rates filter down to building activity figures. When making their decision next week, the RBA can’t make the same mistake twice – Queensland’s building and construction industry depends on them getting it right this time,” says Bidwell.

Despite the state-wide loss of 25,000 full-time construction jobs since 2008, Division 3 Councillor Pforr expects the latest development on the northern Gold Coast to be the first of many new projects.

“Fortunately I’ve got a number of constructions happening in this division and it’s quite unique and different to the rest of the city. So I’m quite excited that we’ve been so proactive in the construction industry by supporting developments like this,” says Pforr.

“At the moment it is (looking positive). If you look at some of the construction nodes on Hope Island and at Paradise Point and Pine Rivers Road, they’re all good developments that are going ahead. It’s all driving really well as far as I’m concerned.”

Giufre is similarly positive on the future outlook of the northern market.

“There have been a lot of developments put on hold, but we believe now that banks are starting to come back to play so there will be lots of new developments popping up,” he says.

“In general the northern end has still got a lot of opportunity for growth; it will be the precinct to expand.”

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