Australia Fair to receive a $50m facelift as competition heats up in Southport CBD

One of the Gold Coast’s oldest major retail centres, Australia Fair, has unveiled a $50 million makeover as competition for shoppers heats up in the Southport CBD amid a return to pre-pandemic trading for the property.

Australia Fair, owned by Brisbane-based private investor Gordon Fu, has gained development approval for the revamp which will include an exterior facelift and new entries at Nerang Street and Marine Parade. The Marine Parade entry, which overlooks the Southport Broadwater, will feature a redesigned pedestrian entrance and a lift for the first time to improve access from Broadwater Parklands to the centre.

While the centre was the subject of criticism from locals earlier this year due to a number of empty shops, Australia Fair’s centre manager Ramon Otten says many of these vacancies were part of the planned upgrades to tenancies ahead of works beginning.

“There’s a lot going on in the centre at the moment with a number of fit-outs under way,” Otten tells Business News Australia.

“Over the next nine to 12 months people will see a lot of changes at Australia Fair.”

The refurbishment will include the creation of a new and larger food precinct known as Broadwater Lane and a new rooftop bar and café planned for a disused storage area on the first floor overlooking Nerang Street.

The spend will cover escalator upgrades, new amenities on the ground floor near Woolworths, a new functional parents’ room and an adult change facility to assist people with complex medical and disability issues.

Planet Fitness has secured a lease on 1,900sqm on the first floor immediately above the Nerang Street entrance, while a 600sqm Asian supermarket will anchor the northern end of the revamped dining precinct formerly occupied by the once popular Top One Chinese restaurant.

“We have been working on a number of these areas for some time,” says Otten.

“We want to deliver a better product to the people of Southport and play our part in the development of the CBD.”

Otten says trading has broadly returned to pre-COVID levels for the centre in terms of carpark usage, pedestrian count and sales.

“We recently experienced one of the best months to date with our retailers and cinema, and Australia Fair’s redevelopment will only build the momentum of the centre as a must-visit precinct to shop, dine and play on the Gold Coast.”

The Australia Fair upgrade is the first since a smaller investment was made in 2017 and the much larger Metro transformation was undertaken on the centre’s western precinct in 2015.

The latest $50 million spend comes as the $500 million Queen Street Village nears completion less than 1km up the road on the former Gold Coast Hospital site. The staged project, undertaken by the Buchan Group, is anchored by a Dendy cinema and incorporates retail, dining, entertainment, residential, childcare, commercial, hotel, health and aged-care facilities.

Otten has welcomed the new investment in Southport but is unfazed by the competition.

“It’s great to see more investment in the wider Southport area, but we have a solid customer base that continues to support us.”

Otten is confident of further investment in Australia Fair as the need arises.

“There will be other stages beyond this as we are always reassessing things.”

Trading will continue as normal while the multi-stage redevelopment of Australia Fair is under way, with completion expected in early 2023.

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