Gold Coast Airport is developing a long-term property strategy to activate the airport precinct and develop the area into an education and commercial hub, following a string of recent land acquisitions.
The airport has grown its landholdings by approximately 18 hectares recently, including a high profile parcel at Wollemi Place that was previously home to a drive-in movie theatre; the former Border Park Raceway site; and a holding at Boyd Street, Tugun.
The airport’s property strategy, which is aligned with the vision in its 2017 master plan, seeks to develop a business and education destination to take advantage of GCA’s unique location in the middle of a growing tourist destination.
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said GCA’s property strategy aimed to facilitate the airport’s growth over the next 20 years by integrating new acquisitions with its main landholding.
“In our immediate area we have two major hospitals on each side of the border, a growing university campus, a major national motorway and an international airport,” he said.
“We have engaged specialist consultancy MacroPlan Dimasi with an objective to identify a preferred mix of innovative and commercial businesses and activities on all of the airport’s landholdings.
“Through development of this strategy we aim to enhance and complement the airport’s primary aviation function with business, education and lifestyle offerings.”
The airport is already home to the Gold Coast’s Southern Cross University campus, which is growing rapidly. Construction of the third campus building, with an area of 10,500sqm, is nearly complete, and planning will then be focussed on accommodating future growth.
Meanwhile, the airport is moving quickly with its plans for an onsite hotel with up to 200 rooms.
Mr Mills said the airport had received interest from a large number of internationally recognised hotel brands.
“We are currently in due diligence with shortlisted parties and expect to reach an agreement with a preferred hotel operator soon,” he said.
“The hotel will be located at the heart of the airport precinct providing a welcoming entrance for visitors.”
GCA is concurrently rolling out a major civil works program for its Project LIFT development, which will increase the airport’s capacity through expansion of the terminal building, additional aircraft parking stands and a consolidated ground transport facility. In addition, new technology is being installed to speed up the check-in and reduce queue times for the extra volume of passengers.
Physical expansion of the airport comes as passenger numbers continue to grow. GCA welcomed a record 6.4 million passengers in the 2016 calendar year (up 7.1 per cent on the previous year) and in January 2017 set a new record for its busiest month ever (624,266 passengers).
Mr Mills said the airport had to expand in step with passenger growth.
“More than just the gateway to the city, we want to see the airport precinct become a destination in its own right,” he said.
The airport team is also working closely with Commonwealth Games organisers to ensure the athletes and other visitors have a special first and last experience of the Gold Coast in April 2018.
Gold Coast Airport is owned and managed by Queensland Airports Limited, a regional airport specialist also operating Townsville, Mount Isa and Longreach airports.