Revealed: Ex-AFL player Tony Smith’s checkmate move to $18m beachfront deal

Ex-footballer and prominent Gold Coast investor Tony Smith has pulled off an $18 million beachfront exchange after buying his neighbour’s luxury home and selling the super-sized site to a developer.
The neighbour’s recently renovated beachfront home will be demolished as part of a planned apartment development by the buyer, Sydney-based Chanine Developments.
Mr Smith, a former Sydney Swans AFL player who has made a fortune trading in blue-chip real estate, flipped the triple block on the sand at The Esplanade, Palm Beach in 2023.
Chanine secured the 1236 sqm site for an undisclosed sum, understood to be between $17 and $18m, and has submitted plans for a 10-storey tower.
Ex-AFL player and investor Tony Smith has turned his focus from Hedges Ave, Mermaid Beach to Palm Beach
The proposed project on 824 sqm will comprise 16 luxury apartments, including a five-bedroom penthouse with a private rooftop pool, while the remainder of the site will be land banked.
Mr Smith, who founded the Breakfree accommodation group, had paid $5m for a double block at 442 The Esplanade in 2020. That property was listed for sale with a $8.795m price tag after passing in at auction in 2022.
Then last year, Mr Smith dropped another $6m on the renovated three-storey home right next door.
440 The Esplanade, Palm Beach
Inside the double-storey beach home
GV Property Group agents Luke Reaby and Antonio Mercuri handled the sale of the amalgamated block to Chanine.
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home at no. 440, described as a contemporary mix of Hamptons and Bohemian styles with luxury finishes, will be bulldozed along with a 1960s beach shack at no. 442.
Records show the home at no. 440 last changed hands for $3.3m in 2019, when it was purchased by Peter Evans.
The proposed tower
Mr Reaby said demand for prime sites remained high among interstate developers.
“The primary focus of development right now is the beachfront strip and the reason is the record revenues which are being achieved support the construction pricing, which is extremely high at the moment,” Mr Reaby said.
He said luxury projects with multimillion-dollar end pricing for full or half-floor apartments had proved most viable as developers sought to capitalise on soaring land values and build costs.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said plummeting construction productivity was a pain point that impacted worsening housing affordability.
Latest ABS data on dwelling completion times show Queensland has the nation’s longest completion times for apartments at 26 months, compared to 14 months 10 years ago.
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“Due to soaring costs and poor productivity, the apartment market has skewed towards the upper end of the market, creating a missing middle in housing product diversity,” Ms Mercorella said.
“This is clearly demonstrated on the Gold Coast where developments catering to larger, luxury apartments with a correlating price tag of $1m or above are now exclusively the norm.”
Chanine Developments managing director Marwan Chanine said the company had missed out on several other unique sites before securing the Palm Beach parcel with 20m ocean frontage for their first project outside NSW.
Views from 442 The Esplanade, Palm Beach
“The Gold Coast, particularly Palm Beach, has captivated us for decades with its remarkable lifestyle, featuring outstanding amenities, stunning beaches, and vibrant local culture,” Mr Chanine said.
“This idyllic setting offers the perfect opportunity for us to create an exclusive series of luxurious residences, tailored to provide the utmost in high-end living in this extraordinary location.”
Mr Chanine said his company’s 25-year partnership with its design arm, CDArchitects, facilitated a streamlined planning process.
“This longstanding collaboration ensures that we are nimble in our approach, enabling us to make quick, informed decisions. By carefully considering construction methodologies and processes, we effectively minimize our risks and ensure the viability of our projects despite current construction challenges,” he said.
This beach shack will be demolished
Plans submitted with council outline a mid-rise tower with a “modern and sophisticated appearance”. The building’s curved façade was inspired by the coastal landscape, and the slab edge would be adorned with a distinctive shark nose detail.
The three-bedroom units will have high-end finishes geared towards cashed-up southern buyers as well as local downsizers.
“The increasing migration to Queensland is driven by the exceptional weather and superior lifestyle, which the southern states cannot match,” Mr Chanine said.
“Our price points will be tailored to reflect the high-end nature of our residences while remaining competitive within the current market, attracting those looking for luxury and quality in an unparalleled location.”
The building’s ground level communal areas will be “akin to a five-star resort”, according to the development application, “offering residents a lavish experience from the moment they enter”.
The oceanfront site

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