ARCHITECTS and developers this week flew to the Gold Coast to start what will be the transformation of Chevron Renaissance shopping centre into a thriving retail precinct.
The site, purchased for a reported $75 million by Shaun Bonétt's Precision Group, is the investment company's first Gold Coast project and joins a portfolio of properties including 144 Edward Street Brisbane, the Victory Hotel Brisbane, Customs House Port Adelaide and White Horse Hotel Sydney.
Bonétt, whose wealth is estimated by the BRW Rich List at $375 million, says the centre has struggled for many years in not having had a clear vision, however his focus moving forward will be to ensure the redevelopment and reactivation of the destination.
"The centre really needs to have two very distinct precincts developed within it - the first, a high quality services precinct which needs to be anchored by a refurbished and high quality Coles supermarket," he says.
"The second, having a much more lifestyle and food orientated precinct which presents a relaxed but high quality offering of good quality food at reasonable prices."
Bonétt joined his architect at the centre earlier this week and says his vision is beginning to turn into something real and tangible.
"We walked into our site and the first stage in any architectural transformation is really understanding what you have to work with and understanding what the opportunities are," says Bonétt.
"At this stage, it has been very much focused on really getting a deep understanding of the property and of the seven entry points the property has to the various streets and understanding the people and demographic of people that are around and above the property.
"The property, considering it was opened in 2000, was actually incredibly well built and the original developer of the property, Raptis Group, did a really terrific job and it's a real honour to now have the opportunity of being involved in its redevelopment."
Bonétt also aims to attract international tenants and says Chevron is an opportunity to identify overseas retailers and create dialogue to entice them to come to the Gold Coast and the property.
Bonétt adds that he had been looking at the Gold Coast as an investment opportunity for many years before he came across the chance to buy Chevron Renaissance from Morgan Stanley's Arena Investment Management at the end of 2014.
He says he was only prepared to enter the market when the Gold Coast was stabilising and on the up.
"I had been looking at the Gold Coast for the last couple of years and Chevron had always been of interest to me, particularly given that it was really at the centre of the activity in the Gold Coast for the last 40-50 years," he says.
"In my view though, the Gold Coast needed to reach a certain minimum level of stabilisation in order for myself to be comfortable investing in the market and what really impressed me was the number of infrastructure works that had been carried out in the Gold Coast, particularly with respect to different levels of transport.
"And looking forward to the next few years, the number of other infrastructure programs that are planned, particularly before the Commonwealth Games (was a drawcard)."
Bonétt founded Precision Group in 1994 and has grown the company from purchasing, developing and selling retail properties to being involved in large-scale retail and commercial property developments.
He holds a bachelor of arts, major in jurisprudence, bachelor of law and a graduate diploma in legal practice. Prior to founding his business, he held corporate advisory roles in property and property taxation at Thomson Simmons Lawyers and Phillips Fox.
Bonétt bought his first house at aged 18 and was just 24 when he established Precision Group.
Q & A with Shaun Bonétt, CEO of Precision Group
With a background in law, what were you able to bring from that profession to your work at Precision Group?
A broad understanding of the way business operates and the various steps in a transaction whether it be a simple lease, loan or a large acquisition.
What are three key leadership strengths you possess?
1. Keeping an open mind.
2. Seeking to consider all relevant information about whatever I am dealing with before making a decision.
3. Appreciating there are often many different paths to achieve the same outcome.
Do you have a leadership mantra?
Always take at least 24 hours to reflect before making any important decision, unless it is absolutely necessary.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs with big dreams to run a company the size of Precision Group?
The Latin saying "carpe diem ad infinitem", which translates to "seize the day with limitless possibilities".
Do you foresee the Gold Coast as a strong place to invest now and into the future? From your point of view, are there any challenges you foresee for the city?
The Gold Coast has reached a tipping point where it will enjoy accelerated high growth over the next three to seven years compared to other Australian cities. This certainly places the Gold Coast as a sound city to invest in. However, like all cities that enjoy a healthy tourism industry, it is vulnerable to material global disruption that may occur.
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support