From fibro shacks to shimmering high rises: The evolution of the Gold Coast

From fibro shacks to shimmering high rises: The evolution of the Gold Coast ELICIA MURRAY twitter pinterest In old black-and-white photos, the Gold Coast of the 1950s is almost unrecognisable from today’s shimmering metropolis, unless the viewer has a keen eye for that sweeping stretch of white sand and distant hinterland. The low-rise fibro shacks and modest guesthouses are a far cry from the soaring high rises, vibrant shops and restaurants that make up Australia’s fastest-growing city today. To

understand the evolution of the Gold Coast, a quick trip back in time is in order. In the 1880s, land along the Nerang River at Southport caught the eye of Brisbane’s elite as an ideal holiday-house destination. At the time, Southport was a burgeoning township in part of Queensland better known for farming and cedar logging. Beach houses, hotels and guesthouses sprang up to meet growing demand from local holidaymakers. By the 1930s, most of the coastline between Southport and the NSW border had been developed. heritage_Mermaid_zfdhbl A beach cottage near Albatross Avenue in Mermaid Beach, circa 1940s. Image: City of Gold Coast World War II fuelled the tourism boom as Allied troops came to soak up the region’s stunning beaches and warm climate. Prices skyrocketed and the area known as the South Coast earned a new nickname: the Gold Coast. Initially considered derogatory, the label was soon embraced for its affluent connotations. In 1959, the town of the South Coast was proclaimed as the city of the Gold Coast. That same year, construction started on a building that would become the forerunner to today’s skyscrapers. Kinkabool on Hanlan Street in Surfers Paradise is the Gold Coast’s first high-rise tower. The 10-storey modernist building is a minnow by today’s standards but at the time, it was considered revolutionary. Gold Coast The Gold Coast’s shimmering skyline today. Photo: iStock Polish-born, Melbourne-based entrepreneur Stanley Korman was one of the driving forces behind Kinkabool and several nearby canal estates. Inspired by the resorts of Miami and Hawaii, he pioneered the development of large-scale hotels with upmarket amenities. The Queensland government’s heritage register describes Kinkabool’s original interiors: “Inside each unit … the kitchens featured laminated stainless steel sinks, plastic benchtops, tiled splashbacks and floors, built-in cupboards with plywood doors, and sliding glass facing upper cupboards. They opened onto the living area with bar units.” Taller coastal towers followed in the 1960s, including The Sands, Paradise Tower and Garfield Towers. Japan’s economic power fuelled a glittering new wave of development in the 1970s and ’80s, until a severe recession applied a handbrake to resort tourism. Star Residences Broadbeach_Kitchen render_July 2020 An artist’s impression of a kitchen at Epsilon at The Star Residences – the latest edition to Broadbeach. By the 2000s, the pendulum had swung back in favour of development, with stricter regulatory controls encouraging a more sophisticated urban landscape. This time, the wealthy Arab diaspora was bankrolling many of the projects, including the Q1 building. From 2005 to 2011, the 322.5-metre skyscraper was the tallest residential tower in the world.One of the latest projects to redefine the skyline in Australia’s biggest non-capital city is Epsilon at The Star Residences. At 63 storeys, it’s on track to be the tallest residential building in the suburb of Broadbeach. Star Residences Broadbeach_Aerial render_July 2020 Epsilon is the second of five towers planned for Broadbeach Island as part of a $2 billion masterplanned precinct. Photo: Star Residences Epsilon is the second of five towers planned for The Star Entertainment Group’s $2 billion masterplanned precinct on Broadbeach Island, being developed in conjunction with Far East Consortium and Chow Tai Fook. Luxury apartments will occupy levels 21 to 63 while a five-star hotel will take up the lower levels. Chris Hinds, sales manager at The Star Residences, says residents will have access to lavish resort-style recreational areas in a precinct that incorporates a casino, restaurants, cafes and bars. Great surf beaches, public transport, the convention centre and Pacific Fair Shopping Centre are within easy walking distance. “It’s not just your small hotel rooms,” Hinds says. “A lot of these newer Gold Coast developments have apartments that are typically larger than CBD apartments. Now you’ve got this new offering integrated with resort-style amenities to take it to the next level.”

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