‘A monstrosity’: The battle to save an exclusive suburb from developers

Clear Island Waters has gone through many ups and downs since it was first proposed in the 1980s and reshaped the central Gold Coast. Planning for the future of the Gold Coast suburbs has come back into sharp focus this week, with residents of Chevron Island calling for a plan for the central business district. It’s not something most Gold Coast suburbs have to do, as they have largely grown from a series of small villages to Australia’s seventh largest city. Things changed in the 1980s when the problems of a city developing in this way already became apparent – with no central public transport network and constantly clogged roads as the population grew. The first generation of heavily planned suburbs to grow out of this era included Robina, Sanctuary Cove, and Clear Island Waters. The suburb itself only began to take shape in the 1980s, but the story began two decades earlier. The land that became Clear Island Waters was used for dairy farming until the first half of the 20th century, with that land being one of the alleged sites where the so-called Merrimac-yowie was spotted. By the mid-1960s, property developer and future Gold Coast mayor Sir Bruce Small owned over 100 acres of land then known as Cypress Gardens. In 1967 Sir Bruce approached the fledgling Surfers Paradise Golf Club, which had been founded two years earlier by “a small group of avid golfers, ex-servicemen and their friends”. The club was looking for a home and initially looked at the Rialto Estate in what was then Albert Shire. Instead, Sir Bruce convinced them to buy Cypress Gardens for $43,240, with the deal signed on February 15, 1967. Fast forward to the 1980s and developers, led by billionaire Bob Ell and his company Leda Holdings, relocated to the area. Leda, Villawood, The Robina Group and others bought large tracts of wetland at the back of Carrara and built the Clear Island Waters estate, naming it for Clear Island Road that once ran through the area to Merrimac. In January 1989, the state government announced the area as an official suburb and it instantly became one of the hottest real estate locations on the coast. In 1991, Paul Randell, director of Baillieu Knight Frank on the Gold Coast, cited Clear Island Waters as a place to buy amid the recession that slowed the real estate industry into the early 1990s. “There is a better selection (of properties) than there has been for a long time,” he said. Among its prominent residents in the 1990s was Australian test cricketer Craig McDermott, who sold his mansion there in 1997 for $1.1 million, plus an autographed bat. In the mid-1990s, property values ​​skyrocketed. “An example is a waterfront lot at The Capes in Clear Island Waters, which sold for $109,000 nearly three years ago and resold in August of this year for $188,000 — a gain of 73 per cent,” a PRD read. report at the time. The scarcity of building land on the Gold Coast increased in the 2000s, with an average selling price of $390,000 in 2001. The booming real estate market led big name developers to pitch major projects for the area. In 2007, John Fish unveiled a $500m proposed redevelopment of the Surfers Paradise Golf Club, which would see the golf club bulldozed and nine-story buildings put in place. The project was planned by Mr. Fish and developer Edwin Yu and was made possible by a vote to sell the golf club’s land for $15, which would mean relocating members to the exclusive Glades golf course in Robina. The development, which was based on the Albert Shire Council height limits of 1978, would encompass a mix of nine-storey buildings to single-storey residences. Firebrand councilor Eddy Sarroff chaired the meeting and told the developers to “keep their money”. NED-2822-GCB-APP “We must fight to prevent this monster from being denied,” said Mr Sarroff. “I have read the proposal thoroughly over the past week and I will read it three more times before I can prepare a submission on your behalf so that we can reject this sample.” It was opposed by the Clear Island Waters Action Group, though development ultimately fell through after developers were hit hard by the financial crisis. Now, 15 years later, Clear Island Waters is hot again. The latest data from the REA Group released this month showed it was one of the Gold Coast suburbs that had the highest demand from buyers during the closing months of 2021. It was listed alongside Currumbin Waters, Worongary, Bonogin Highland Park, Elanora and Mermaid Waters. Among the prominent residents in the 1990s was Australian test cricketer Craig McDermott who sold his mansion there in 1997 for $1.1 million, plus a signed bat.ENG-3269 Gold Coast Download newsletter BannerTwitter follow Andrew Potts

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