More front than a Gold Coast superblock

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An emerging trend to bigger and grander residences on the Gold Coast’s Hedges Avenue is threatening to swallow up every block in sight as Australia’s multi-millionaires knock down beach houses to create “superblocks”. Is the grab for land unique to millionaires’ row or is it part of a larger nationwide phenomenon?

Hedges Avenue runs parallel to the waterfront. On the western side, the even numbers, are the houses whose owners have to (ugh!) cross the road to get to the beach. It’s the odd-numbered, eastern side that are the prizes: yards that run right on to the sand.

And that’s the side where the superblock action is happening.

Tony Smith, a former ruckman with the Sydney Swans AFL team and a serial entrepreneur, has spent five years and $28 million quietly buying up the five adjacent blocks where he can build a dream home (and show the neighbours he has arrived).

Demolition at number 33, at the southern end of the 2000 square metre superblock, began on September 25. It is the most recent purchase. He paid $6.75 million for it on July 1 this year, completing the set with numbers 35, 37, 39 and 41. The superblock has about 50 metres of absolute beachfront and has been valued at $60–70 million.

Michael Kollosche, an agent with Ray White Broadbeach, represents many of Hedges Avenue’s vendors. “I had a $17 million offer for a double block here recently,” he says. “Buying them separately you might pay $7 million each, so you’re looking at a premium of about 20% for adjoining blocks.”

Admittedly, the blocks here are 405 square metres, smaller than many suburban blocks, but they are smack on the beach where knockdown properties go for more than $7 million. The beachfront blocks are grouped between cross-streets that run through to the beach, providing the Gold Coast’s regular folk beach access.

The even numbered houses might be on the “wrong side of the track”, but they still attract handsome prices. A 1950s fibro beach house at number 74 sold recently for $3 million.

Of course, the concept of the superblock may make sense in the Gold Coast, where bigger and brighter is better, but is it a trend the rest of the market should watch?

Peter Kelaher, a buyer’s agent from PK Property & Search in Sydney, says: “This kind of thing is happening all the time. Just the other week I bought a property at 29 Wonga St, Cremorne, for the guy next door. Number 29 was basically a knockdown but offered good vehicle access to the property at a cost of around $2.7 million.”

In Melbourne, the concept of picking up your neighbour’s property on a whim appears to be long gone, according to Gerald Delaney, managing director of Kay & Burton. “Down here we look at those sales and are absolutely staggered. In the old days I used to spend a lot of time trying to buy adjoining properties for tennis courts. Now the focus is on cutting them loose and selling them.”

It pays to remember that the term superblock was coined in Perth back in the 1980s when colourful business identity Laurie Connell bought a series of adjoining waterfront properties in Peppermint Grove. A subsequent owner, developer Warren Anderson, broke up the superblock and sold off the parts. In an usual twist, those lots were then steadily accumulated by Pankaj Oswal, an ammonia tycoon from India whose huge factories in WA thrive on cheap Aussie gas prices. He has plans of building one of Perth’s most expensive homes on the land.

But all is not lost if you aspire to that special feeling that you get from having the sand between your toes at your very own beach front mega-mansion. On the Gold Coast, several key properties along “millionaire’s row” – the golden mile of Hedges Avenue – are up for sale over the next few weeks, including homes either side of property developer Bruce Tilley’s site at number 239. Could Tilley be the next to build his very own “superblock”?

A longer version of this story first appeared in The Eureka Report.


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