There is a flurry of activity across all the region’s major shopping centres as Stockland, Mirvac and Lendlease work to expand and adapt to the changing retail environment, and with a brand-new offering yet to come out of the ground, Coast shoppers will soon be spoilt for choice.
Mirvac is expanding Kawana Shoppingworld’s floor space by 6000 square metres to add the Coast’s first Gold Class cinema plus other shops, resulting in more than 200 new retail jobs.
Expansion plans are also well underway for the Lendlease-owned Sunshine Plaza, with works to expand the centre from 73,000 square metres to more than 107,000 square metres, set to make it the largest retail centre north of Brisbane.
When work is completed, the Plaza will include an enhanced retail mix with the region’s first David Jones department store, a new BIG W, a refurbished Myer, and more than 100 new speciality stores.
The $400 million redevelopment could also include a high ropes course with a 21-metre high viewing deck and 10 zip lines across Cornmeal Creek, which could see the Plaza become the home of the first and largest high-ropes course at a major regional shopping centre in the country.
Lendlease head of retail Gary Horwitz says in a constantly evolving retail market, being responsive to customer needs is critical to retail shopping precincts thriving in the future.
“This high-ropes course brings a future dimension to the shopping experience with an experiential entertainment offer that will attract locals and visiting tourists,” he says.
Further south, Stockland has lodged redevelopment plans with the Sunshine Coast Council, with adjustments to a previous development application that was approved in 2014.
The new design aims to provide the Caloundra community with a vibrant entertainment and dining precinct, including a six-screen cinema complex, restaurants and cafes, plus new specialty shops. No time frames have been determined as this application is going through council processes.
Stockland also has state and local planning approvals for the proposed $830 million Birtinya Town Centre masterplan development on Kawana Way.
The 18 hectares will include a retail town centre, a new civic plaza, walkable waterfront along Lake Kawana and open green space – all integrated with commercial, health-related research facilities and high-density residential.
The first stage of the town centre masterplan is the $87 million Stockland Birtinya Shopping Centre.
Stockland group executive and CEO of commercial property John Schroder says the new retail town centre will be “consciously different”, designed to embrace its coastal location with architectural finishes, extensive landscaping and natural ventilation, offering a relaxed atmosphere and representing the culture of the Coast.
“Stockland Birtinya will be the heart of this vibrant and thriving future town centre featuring a flagship Coles and Aldi supermarket, two mini-majors, an open-air, late-night dining precinct, some 30 specialty retailers and 522 car parking spaces,” he says.
“Upon completion of the first stage, this new centre will service a primary trade area of 15,000 people, offering a diverse dining, entertainment and retail offering. It will be a great place for convenience shopping, having a coffee along the waterfront or meeting friends for dinner and drinks.”
Stockland will also develop a service station and two drive-through tenancies adjacent to the shopping centre in the first stage of development. A second stage of the shopping centre will be developed in future stages taking the total retail to 20,000 square metres.
Stockland has committed to a five-star Green Star As Built rating for the new Stockland Birtinya Shopping Centre, which will have sustainability measures such as solar panels.
Sunshine Coast Chamber of Commerce Alliance vice president Linda Delamotte says this new future for retail will attract more people to spend on the Coast.
“Companies the size of these organisations simply do not invest in a region without good reason,” she says.
“They have done their due diligence and understand the growth we are expecting here over the coming years and are expanding and investing in order to meet that demand.
“Savvy retailers can really make their mark on the retail space. Customers are seeking a shopping and dining experience.
“They want their senses to be awakened and surprised by the offering. Shopping and dining are about the atmosphere and journey as much as they are about purpose behind the activity.
“Not all destinations offer the same thing and people take the opportunity to do their shopping, enjoy lunch or coffee so it becomes a morning or day out not just a trip to the shops.”
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford says there is no doubt investor confidence is high in the region.
“The region’s visitor economy is forecast to grow strongly for the next seven years at least.
“The planned upgrade of the Bruce Highway and expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport will further fuel that growth. It is being realised as an attractive investment destination,” he says.
“We are competing with the globe for visitors, and retail is an important part of the tourism and destination experience. People on holidays are relaxed and often have the time or want to indulge in some retail therapy.
“We know people coming in on cruise ships get off and want to know where the shops are and how can they get to Sunshine Plaza. We also know that Eumundi Markets is the largest tourist attraction on the Sunshine Coast.
“While many visitors flock to the markets held across the Coast every weekend, many other visitors are not looking for conventional tourism retail but instead want to shop where the locals shop and are increasingly seeking an authentic experience.”