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Monday, April 28, 2008

Gold Coast on the upswing

From left: Lim Eng Chong, Peter Malady and Andrew Bampton with a model of the Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel & Residences at a special preview in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian investors should seize the opportunity to buy properties in Australia's Gold Coast, as the property market there is poised for another upswing.

Raptis Group Ltd sales and marketing director Peter Malady said the last boom was in 2004 and, as Queensland generally had a seven-year property cycle, investors should enter the market now.

“Gold Coast is Australia's fastest growing city. With a population of more than 500,000, it is Australia's sixth largest city. Almost 18,000 people move there every year,” he told StarBiz at a preview of Raptis' two latest Gold Coast projects, the Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel & Residence and the Southport Central, in Kuala Lumpur recently. Each project has a gross development value of about A$700mil.

Malady said forecasts showed that the Gold Coast population would exceed 762,000 by 2026.

“There is a massive commitment to infrastructure development. They include a desalination plant, new Parklands Hospital, extension of the railway from Robina to Coolangatta, upgrading of the Pacific motorway and extension to the Gold Coast airport,” he added. He said Gold Coast residents were also willing to pay more for property with median housing loan repayments of A$1,480 per week, which is 12% higher than the national average.

Apartment accommodation is the second most popular type of dwelling (23%), and is 8% higher than the national average.

On the Gold Coast office vacancy rate, he said it remained at an all time low of just 4.5%, down from the 7.6% recorded at the start of 2006. “While supply additions have been significant, tenant demand remains strong, supporting the tightening market and the favourable location,” he said.

On the Hilton Surfers Paradise, Malady said it would comprise the 32-storey Boulevard Tower with 186 units of one and two-bedroom apartments and the 55-storey Orchid Tower with apartments, retail shops and offices.

The Orchid Tower will have 224 residences with over 50 floor plans as well as 170 hotel suites, managed by the Hilton group. It will be the only five-star hotel in the heart of Surfers Paradise and the first hotel and residences complex in the area. It will also boast a fivestar indoor spa and five-star restaurant and bar.

Malady said with only 224 apartments and the Hilton brand name, the Orchid Tower presented a unique and “very limited” opportunity as compared to other developments in the area, such as Soul with 300 plus apartments, Q1 with over 500 units, Circle on Cavill with 550 plus units, and Chevron with over 700 units.

He said about 180 apartments of the Boulevard Tower were sold within 10 weeks of the launch recently. “In view of the good response, we have brought forward by five months the launch of the Orchid Tower. We have sold about 90 units since Easter,” he said.

Malady added that many Malaysians had sent their children to study in the Gold Coast.

“With AirAsia having direct flights to the Gold Coast, there will be more Malaysians travelling to the Gold Coast.”

Raptis sales operations manager Andrew Bampton said the Southport Central with 788 apartments in three towers and 400 offices would be the largest mixed development in Australia.

The apartments are priced from A$400,000 (86 sq m) to A$800,000 (140 sq m) Henry Butcher Malaysia president Lim Eng Chong said his company was very careful when picking projects to market. “We are helping Raptis market these two projects as we feel they offer very good investment opportunities,” he added.

The Raptis group, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange since 1986, has been developing in the Gold Coast for more than 30 years. Some of its notable projects are The Moroccan, Phoenician Health Spa & Resort, Marakesh, Adelphi Springs, Bel Air Resort, and Platinum on the Beach.

By The Star (by S.C.Cheah)

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