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Paul Little upbeat on Gold Coast as rivals retreat

The Australian

Elizabeth Redman

Rich-lister developer Paul Little is still confident in the Gold Coast apartment market as offshore and local developers pull back around the country, with unit projects shelved or rebadged for other uses.

Mr Little is launching his Signature apartment development in Broadbeach today to local buyers after an international launch two weeks ago, and the 263-apartment tower has already seen about 40 sales. He expects to start work on the site early in the new financial year and is pushing ahead with the project even after Chinese developer Dalian Wanda said it was reviewing its international apartment and hotel projects and would consider any approaches from prospective buyers. Wanda is developing landmark apartment and hotel projects on the Gold Coast and in Sydney.

“I don’t think I’d be building this building if I didn’t (have confidence),” Mr Little told The Australian. “We’re very confident that we’ve picked the cycles to take advantage of what appears to be very strong demand.” It was an opportune time to engage builders, with the cost of building in Queensland appearing to have plateaued after preparation for the Commonwealth Games and the wave of apartment development in Brisbane cooling, he said. Melbourne, which had already experienced an apartment building boom, was seeing more projects shelved than on the Gold Coast,
Mr Little said.

In Victoria, the amount of new construction under way was half the level it was 18 months ago, while many projects in NSW were being put on hold. But the Gold Coast tended to be countercyclical in terms of confidence and starts, so after a strong eight years for NSW and Victoria the tables were now turning. “The Gold Coast’s a lot stronger, most projects are going ahead — unless of course there’s some sort of global operator that’s got reasons for not pushing ahead — but based on domestic demand and cyclicality I think we’re in a strong period for the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast,” he said. Mr Little was not surprised that some developers were opting to change planned apartment projects into office or other developments, such as tycoon Lang Walker’s change of plans at his Parramatta site. “It’s an indication of the changing mood that most developers are being forced to consider now,” he said.

Little Group had moved out of Victoria to the Gold Coast and New Zealand and was working on student accommodation and a hotel “as part of our understanding of the changing market”, he said.
Apartments in the Signature project — designed by architects Rothelowman and SJB Interiors — start from $475,000 from a one bedroom to $1.48m for a three bedroom. Interest is expected from buyers who want a holiday home and might also let the unit short-term, given amenities such as an infinity edge pool, cinema and gym.

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