Maroochydore in Focus: Infill Development Leads Coast Expansion

Construction is ramping up in the Sunshine Coast’s emerging $2.5-billion CBD at Maroochydore with more businesses and people making the move to the beach.

But finding development opportunities is not easy on the constrained Sunshine Coast.

South-east Queensland developer Habitat Property Group has lodged plans with the Sunshine Coast Council for its latest apartment development at Maroochydore.

The 201 apartments will be set across two eight-storey buildings on the site of an old timber mill at Maroochydore, which it acquired from the Sunshine Coast Council in December last year.

The 20,010sq m site at 2 Millwell Road East is next to the recently renovated Sunshine Plaza Shopping Centre and close to the emerging Maroochydore CBD, where Habitat is developing two further apartment towers.

Habitat managing director Cleighton Clark says that after 17 years developing on the Sunshine Coast, they were confident about the depth of the market, but warned land supply was constraining the region’s growth.

Clark says the main tracts of developable land are controlled by some big players and that more land needed to be made available to unlock the Sunshine Coast’s growth potential.

“We’re very bullish on the Sunshine Coast, things have been going very well over the past two years,” he says.

“Rental vacancy rates are at a historical low and consistently below those of other regional and metropolitan areas in southeast Queensland.

“There’s an affordability crisis and more stock and more land is needed.

“Finding land is probably one of the trickier things to do … you can’t amalgamate smaller sites … it’s not as easy to scale up like you can on the Gold Coast and build higher (because of height restrictions).

“In my opinion they should be looking at land supply to unlock the growth potential of the coast.”

Infill Development Leads Coast Expansion

▲ Habitat Property Group plans to build The Millwell over two stages comprising 201 apartments across two eight-storey buildings.

The Sunshine Coast needs one new suburb every year for the next 20 years to keep up with its surging population growth, according to research on the booming region

A Directive Collective property market update claimed that the region had outperformed Brisbane and the Gold Coast during the past three years.

A Sunshine Coast Council spokeswoman said the Queensland government’s Land Supply and Development Monitoring report showed the expansion area of the coast was at 17 years of supply, while the consolidation area had about 14 years of supply.

“This suggests there is a need to take a balanced approach to identifying additional residential development opportunities to 2041 and beyond, with a particular need to address supply constraints within the existing urban area,” she said.

“The council continues to work collaboratively with the Queensland government on planning and infrastructure arrangements for the Beerwah East Major Development Area to ensure its delivery can be expedited.

“Areas of the Urban Footprint that are not currently made available for urban development are being further reviewed as part of the council’s New Planning Scheme Project.”

That project puts Maroochydore squarely under the microscope.

It aims to identify infill development opportunities close to major centres including Maroochydore, Caloundra and Nambour, and along the proposed mass transit corridor between Maroochydore and Caloundra.

Maroochydore’s city centre has also been earmarked for a 2032 Olympic village.

Walker Corporation is delivering 1374 beds to host athletes competing on the Sunshine Coast in football, basketball, marathon, mountain biking, cycling and kiteboarding.

In November, 2020 Walker Corporation, SunCentral Maroochydore and the Sunshine Coast Council inked a development deal worth $2.5 billion to develop the city centre.

The deal will deliver 160,000sq m of commercial and retail space and about 4000 residential apartments during the next 15 to 20 years.

Habitat Property Group is the only developer delivering residential within the Maroochydore CBD presently. Managing director Cleighton Clark says there is strong appetite for apartment living close to the city centre.

The K Architecture-designed towers at The Millwell development will be nestled in a 7363sq m developable envelope on the expansive site, with some of the land being delivered back to the council for conservation works.

“Sales are very healthy at the moment and prices are up quite signficantly,” Clark says.

“Depending on where you look on the coast, apartment prices are up between 31 and 34 per cent over the past 12 months. In fact, in some areas,  apartments have outpaced houses on the coast in terms of price growth.

“We currently have a number of projects finishing construction in the Maroochydore CBD and in Sippy Downs, with more commencing later this year.

“These projects have all proven to be hugely appealing to both owner occupiers and investors and we are expecting the current high levels of market interest to follow through to The Millwell.”

Clark says that historically their developments had been skewed to about 70 per cent investors, but during the past two years it had shifted to a more even split between investors and owner-occupiers, which he says reflects the high number of people making the permanent move to the coast.

Clark says he anticipates the proposed creekside project will be well received by the council. He says it will support more than 400 local construction workers on the project once approved.


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