The absolute heart of the Gold Coast and the undisputed centre of Surfers Paradise, our centre profile features the soon to open Paradise Centre. Set to become the iconic retail image of Australia’s tourist Mecca, it’s all about ‘location, location, location’.
If you were a stranger to the Gold Coast, to find its undisputed centre wouldn’t be difficult. In fact, it’s glaringly obvious.
The Gold Coast City stretches from the Albert River to the NSW border at Coolangatta, incorporating some 50 odd kilometres of coastline and golden beaches; Australia’s playground and the major holiday destination for overseas visitors. To the north of this stretch sit the holiday icons of Sanctuary Cove, The Pines and Hope Island golf resorts; Dreamworld, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild theme parks and the resorts at Runaway Bay. To the south, Coolangatta, Currumbin, Palm Beach, Burleigh Heads and then Miami Beach.
Get closer to the centre of this holiday mecca, and the icons are household names: Sheraton Mirage Resort, Mermaid Beach, Main Beach, Broadbeach, Palazzo Versace Resort, The Star, Southport… the list goes on. But at the uncontested, absolute centre of the Gold Coast sits Surfers Paradise; and the centre of Surfers? No-brainer; it’s Cavill Avenue leading into the pedestrianised Cavill Mall.
Surfers Paradise Beach sits at the heart of the Gold Coast. An arched metallic sign at its entrance is the ‘photo-op’ location for tourists to post the pic on Instagram, Facebook or wherever. And where is this sign? At the end of Cavill Mall of course!
So, the Gold Coast’s beaches, the resorts, the retail and entertainment, the soaring residential towers, the food and beverage outlets, all converge, becoming denser as you reach the centre and at one point, the epicentre, they all come together – the ocean, beach and the built environment.
And it’s at that point, we find Paradise Centre.
Paradise Centre was purchased by the Challenger Group about a decade ago; before that, it was owned by a number of interests, but back then, it was a totally different entity. During the past decade or two, it would be true to say that Paradise Centre has traded on its position.
Location-wise, it’s the hottest retail property on the Gold Coast, dominating the stroll from the Gold Coast Highway to the beach via Cavill Avenue.
In the old days, the section fronting the beach housed the Grundy’s Entertainment Centre and Water Slides, one of Surfers’ major attractions; the shops along Cavill Avenue were a hodgepodge of retail with little or no collective theming yet trading to the maximum as a result of ‘location, location, location’.
But the surrounds were changing; since the turn of the century, the whole region from Brisbane southward experienced a massive transformation. The days of the ‘local developers’– the ‘white shoe brigade’ – those who’d made fortunes exploiting the conversion of the Gold Coast from a ‘Brisbane week-ender destination’, into a national resort city – had gone. The Gold Coast became the province of the major developers; world-class resorts emerged, massive government infrastructure projects, freeways to and from Brisbane, along with significant residential expansion were the order of the day.
Yet at its heart, the Paradise Centre languished somewhat; over the years, the ‘standard’ of the property, its presentation and market positioning diminished, although its location assured the revenue; perhaps it was a case of; ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Challenger’s approach was different; they looked at possibilities, at potential and to the future. You can only have one ‘epicentre’; what can you do with it?
As Adam McKean, CIP’s Head of Retail, said, “Surfers Paradise is the ‘leisuretainment’ capital of the Gold Coast; it attracts some 13 million tourists each year and remains one of the strongest growth markets in Australia.” Interest and concern with what would emerge went way beyond that of the owners and developers.
Paradise Centre’s eastern face fronts the ocean, in fact, it’s the only real beach site in the whole of Surfer’s Paradise. After a number of years, the prime beachfront site deteriorated, presentation was secondary and the building was unsuitable for attractive retail. In summation, it was an eyesore. There was only one option; demolition.
Any new solution had profound implications. The redevelopment of Paradise Centre, its presentation and market positioning would, in turn, significantly reflect the image of Surfers Paradise itself; everyone on the Gold Coast, directly or indirectly, had an interest.
Kate Melocik, Senior Development Manager, told SCN, “The redevelopment of Paradise Centre is one of the first steps towards revitalising the iconic Surfers Paradise and reclaiming its reputation as the ultimate entertainment and beach destination”.
Work with the council and authorities commenced; five years later, in 2021, the redevelopment began.
What’s emerging is nothing short of stunning. To fully understand Paradise Centre, it’s necessary to split it into two parts – the external and internal. Paradise Centre dominates the southern face of Cavill Avenue and Cavill Mall, occupying the entire block from Surfers Paradise Boulevard to the Esplanade and beach. It’s about a quarter of a kilometre – some 250 metres – of the highest foot trafficked streetscape on the Gold Coast, tenanted by those retailers who dominate such locations.
There’s Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream, Hard Rock Café, BWS, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Ben & Jerry’s, Grill’d, Starbucks, Hungry Jacks, Guzman y Gomez, Kitty O’Shea’s… the list goes on, and they’re joined by pizza outlets, convenience stores, the volume restaurants and the best of the local takeaway outlets. This whole stretch is, quite simply, ‘volume/impulse retail’ at its best.
At the end of this retail powerhouse strip, you reach the Esplanade and oceanfront. It’s Paradise Centre’s ‘beachfront’ identity, a brand new, two-level, state-of-the-art casual dining precinct with a selection of eight alfresco and in-line bars and restaurants. Again, the cream of the casual dining industry are mentioned.
Although not opening until June/July 2022, the leasing pipeline already has agreed terms with Gelato Messina, TGI Fridays and the latest American on the scene, the dynamic Wahlburgers.
Design-wise it’s slick, super modern, cleverly landscaped, blurring the line between the built environment, the beach and the ocean. It’s a two-level structure fronting the Esplanade beyond which is the beach. Close enough to hear the breaking waves, the alfresco component covers the entire length of this new structure.
Adam Nahle, National Leasing Manager, CIPAM, said: “Retailers understood the uniqueness of this opportunity; being part of the Gold Coast’s only beach-front dining precinct was something special and restaurant owners wanted to be a part of it. Six of the eight restaurant tenancies have already been secured and we’re delighted to be partnering with some of the region’s ‘most wanted’ restaurant operators.”
Leading directly from it is a major entrance to the ‘internal’ precincts beginning with the new ‘beach culture’ strip, then on to the rest of the internal component.
Whole refurbished sections, many retailers and new additions have given Paradise Centre a total face-lift; for example, the iconic Surfers Paradise Tavern has completely refurbished its two-level operation. It’s a strong centre already, with the household name retailers providing testimony to its drawing power. With recent deals secured with Platypus and Vans, in addition to the likes of Priceline, Strandbags, Cotton On Body and Factorie, these brands feature on the ground floor but move up to Level 1, and the scene is mind-boggling.
The Timezone, at almost 6,000m2 on the eastern end of level 1, bills itself as the largest in the world; there’s laser tag, glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, bumper cars, as well as all the latest and greatest arcade games. There’s also Zone Bowling, the latest offer in ten-pin bowling technology, with an experience inclusive of food and beverages to suit the whole family opening in late 2021. On the western end of level 1, you’ll find the Hard Rock Café and Surfers Paradise Beer garden as well as elevator outlets of the 408-room Novotel, part of the Challenger property holding, which towers above the shopping and leisure centre.
One could detail the Trade Area statistics, but in a way, they’re just academic in regard to retail decisions. The Main Trade Area has a population of about 142,000, with a forecasted retail spend of $3.7 billion by 2031. It’s a spending population too, with an income some 14.3% higher than the average. But all that, although fundamentally important, pales (by no way into insignificance) when compared with more than 13 million a year in tourist influx, bringing with it a $5.1 billion spend!
What’s relevant to retail here is, quite simply, ‘location, location, location’. The new light rail system linking the Gold Coast ocean-front suburbs has its busiest and most trafficked station (more than a million passengers per year), ‘Surfers Paradise’, less than 100 metres away. Paradise Centre is aptly named. If you think the Gold Coast is Paradise, then this certainly is its ‘Centre’.