SOUTHPORT is fast regaining the city's highly contested CBD status with 20 new building developments in the pipeline following the State Government's announcement of the hub as a priority development area (PDA).

Member for Southport and Assistant Minister for Planning Reform, Rob Molhoek says Southport has always been the CBD of the Gold Coast, accounting for around 20 per cent of all jobs occurring within the electorate of Southport.

"There are nearly 40,000 people working in Southport and the average income for people working in the area is about $7,000 a year higher than the city wide average," he says.

"Southport is already an engine room of some sorts; it has just been unrecognised and underdeveloped."

Molhoek says his ultimate vision is to see Southport established as Queensland's second business capital outside of the Brisbane CBD.

Southport councilor Dawn Crichlow says the Gold Coast CBD Office and the announcement of the PDA is a win for developers looking to invest on the Gold Coast and current small business owners in Southport who want to expand.

"The designated office has town planners and economic development officers so anyone can go there to speak about any proposals for a development, for opening an office or a factory or anything else in Southport," says Cr Crichlow.

"The PDA means business owners in Southport have the flexibility to change their use or redevelop."

Half of the proposed developments have been approved by Gold Coast City Council, including a $60 million residential building by Brisbane-based developer Philip Usher Constructions, the developer behind the Southport H20 on Broadwater high-rise and which was last year named the state's largest residential builder.

The innovative project which appears to have two tiers, with the top larger than the bottom, is expected to feature 236 apartments and a variety of commercial premises including offices, retail shops, restaurants, a medical centre and language school.

Philip Usher Constructions development manager George Turner says the emerging lack of supply and apartment stock in the city and the renewed investor sector confidence in the Gold Coast property market instilled confidence to further invest in Southport.

"This is coupled with local and State Government initiatives to cement Southport as the city's CBD, and the associated push to deregulate land use and deliver specific development opportunities for the Southport PDA to support diverse commerce and economic growth," says Turner.

"Also, with Philip Usher Constructions having previously completed its successful twin tower project, H20 on Broadwater the company has a strong affinity with Southport."

David Geyer from Geyer Town Planning worked with Philip Usher Constructions to secure approval for the project, to be built on the corner of Marine Parade and North Street.

"The involvement of senior council planning and design staff in managing the application process, and who were empowered to make decisions, was the key to achieving timely resolution of issues and ultimately an expeditious approval process," he says.

The project is expected to create around 500 jobs.

Other developments coming on line include an approved $12 million, eight-storey high-rise residential apartment building at 43 Lenneberg Street and a 32-storey mixed-use tower on the corner of Scarborough Street, White Street and Owens Lane which is awaiting decision from council.

The developments add to the $5 billion in public and private investment in infrastructure in the area hat is currently driving the revitalisation of the historical CBD.

Investment to date includes the development of the Gold Coast light rail, Gold Coast Chinatown, Southport Broadwater Parklands, Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, Gold Coast Institute of TAFE and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games facilities.

In the pipeline

  • 43 Lenneberg Street 8 storey high-rise apartment building, 30 units/60 bedrooms (APPROVED)
  • 22 White Street - 8 storey motel building, 88 rooms, managers apartment and communal café (APPROVED)
  • 63 Meron Street - shopping centre re-development (APPROVED)
  • 23 Norman Street (Cnr Marine Pde and North) - 31 storey residential building, 236 apartments and commercial services.
  • 133-137 Scarborough Street - 8 storey building, 42 apartments and ground floor dining
  • 22 Garden Street two storey office building (APPROVED)
  • 45 Nind Street indoor gymnasium (APPROVED)
  • 44 Brighton Parade 2 lot subdivision (APPROVED)
  • 12 Rawlins Street single storey office (APPROVED)
  • 1 Chester Terrace duplex (APPROVED)

Gold Coast Business News spoke to four prominent Southport movers and shakers to find out how the PDA is progressing, what challenges remain for business owners and what needs to be done to improve Southport's reputation to attract further investment.


Rob Molhoek, State Member for Southport and Assistant Minister for Planning Reform

In the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games and, coincidently, Southport's Centenary, the declaration of this PDA ensures development and investment proposals every chance of success. 'Sensational Southport' is coming back to life; new businesses are springing up every week and the declaration of Southport as a Priority Development Area is the icing on the cake. The feedback I have received from business owners and retailers in Southport has been extremely positive this level of commitment from the state and local governments has really encouraged them.


Laird Marshall, President, Southport Chamber of Commerce

Local businesses in Southport are much more resilient than those in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. We have suffered from lack of Federal Government funding, a boom-bust economy which is much more variable than the capital cities, then the light rail construction disruption. I think business owners will get more excited when Chinatown opens, the light rail is operating for business and we come to terms with the Federal Government budget. The second half of the year is looking a heck of a lot better and I think that is when we have the opportunity to get 'excited' but then again, state and local government need to work with all Gold Coast Chambers of Commerce, who don't represent vested interests, to empower all businesses to become involved and motivated.


Hans Torv, Executive Chairman Hot Tomato, Owner Courthouse Hotel

Southport needs universal recognition as the CBD and good planning for its future development and growth. The State Government and Gold Coast City Council have committed to that by establishing the Southport Priority Development Area. Substantial work has gone into creating the overall plan and that has already seen very positive and beneficial interest in the area. Businesses will gravitate to a well-organised functional CBD. They will look for quality office space, public transport, proximity to other business, infrastructure and the availability of facilities for their staff like open space, parks and cafes. It all makes for a great vibrant working environment.


 John Howe, Executive Chairman iEDM, Chair Committee for Southport

Both state government and local government are working really well together. They have been very supportive of the rebuilding of Southport. It has been at ground zero since the GFC and with the light rail, which has been a massive disruption to businesses in Southport.  It is absolutely essential to have in place a rebuilding program and it has been great to have the support of the Mayor, Premier, local councilor and Assistant Minister, all who have been supportive of the overall framework for the rebuilding of Southport.



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