THE expansion and growth of the Gold Coast is being "significantly underestimated", says BRW Rich Lister and property magnate Shaun Bonétt (pictured).
The director of one of the country's largest privately owned investment companies, Precision Group, late last year took his first big bite out of the Gold Coast property market, and sees big opportunities ahead.
"I believe the Gold Coast has been set on a high growth stage, with significant hospitality, retail and entertainment projects and developments scheduled to occur over the next two to three years," says Bonétt, whose wealth is estimated by BRW at $478 million.
"At the moment it appears to me that the future expansion and growth of the Gold Coast is being significantly underestimated. I believe the Gold Coast has been positioned to become what Shanghai is to China."
Over the last 15 years Shanghai has transformed into one of China's most vibrant cities, with Bonétt saying the Gold Coast should buckle up for the same rapid expansion.
"Ten to 15 years ago no one really knew about Shanghai, it was a very small city," he says.
"But it exhibited certain qualities - it exhibited the entertainment zone at The Bund area which was still a popular precinct and had plenty of opportunity, and the lifestyle and entertainment elements were worked at.
"That was one of the primary reasons why Shanghai then started to rapidly expand. In fact, it became very much of a focal point for the rest of China."
Bonétt says the Gold Coast features similar qualities to Shanghai with its tourist attractions and enviable lifestyle and these assets will boost the city onto the world stage, like they did for Shanghai.
This predicted growth is what led Bonétt to snap up Chevron Renaissance for $75 million, with a vision to redevelop and reactivate the precinct and transform it into a thriving shopping destination.
When the property was first purchased it had 23 vacant tenancies. The site now has just 15 vacancies with Bonétt saying it has been a "very intense" period from the time of settlement.
"I have now been the owner of the property for three months and during that time we have had a full review of the property's services and looked at lifting those services to the best operators in the market and also creating some competition with respect to pricing of services," he says.
"We are working on not just filling the vacancies but finding the right retailer and making the best use of the position the property has, which I guess is the difference in the way good managers operate. You don't just fill shops, you actually want to align the success of the operator with the success of the centre.
"We have already had a number of wins. We have leased eight of the 23 vacancies, a number of which are with national type operators. I have been pleased with the take-up and interest of retailers."
Refurbishments will continue over the next few years including to the carpark and food court, and extensions will be added to offer protection for shoppers from rain and wind.
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