City Living with SunCentral
Who’d have thunk that memories of childhood television shows would help John Caruso connect the dots, revealing an interconnected community that’s laying the foundations for a brighter future.
It’s been a few years since I watched Sesame Street however, I couldn’t help thinking of the song People in Your Neighbourhood while reaching out and connecting with a cross section of locals that occupy an area of land that has, and will continue to, develop at a rapid rate over the next fifteen years.
What’s evident already, even in these early stages is a sense of belonging, connection, comradery, and shared interests as the new Maroochydore City Centre takes shape.
“It’s a long-term project,” explains Amanda Yeates, CEO of SunCentral Maroochydore, which is wholly owned by Sunshine Coast Council and appointed to oversee the design and delivery of the new City Centre.
“If you look back 20 years, Maroochydore was identified as the city for the Sunshine Coast in the Southeast Queensland Regional Plan.
“Where I work now used to be the Horton Park Golf Course, situated in the middle of Maroochydore’s growing city centre, much like the hole in a donut.
“Council acquired the 53-hectare site in 2015 to transform it into a vibrant hub for commercial and cultural activity for the Sunshine Coast.
“There’s still a good fifteen years to build out the City and if you haven’t visited recently, you’ll notice numerous buildings constructed.
“However, what you currently see with the restaurants, City Hall and the MET accounts for only a quarter of the total construction site.
“The site is the largest greenfield CBD in the country,” says Amanda proudly.
The MET brings the energy to the City Centre as a mulitpurpose space for creative exploration, live performances and celebrations.
Health and wellness is a priority with the likes FLOWST8, Kokora Massage and Foraged For You supplements already calling the City Centre home.
Food is a central part of any community and there is a world of flavours to explore from Colombian Coffee to freshly baked goodies at Harvest Cafe; an immersive Indo-Fijian experience at Pataka; Kibou Japanese Bar & Kitchen; the Asian fusion flavours at Giddy Geisha; modern Italian at Bottarga; and traditional European feel of Market Bistro and Market Wine Store.
The Cheers theme song talks about a place where everybody knows your name, for Luke Stringer from Market Bistro it’s a case of everyone knowing his.
“We opened three years ago, and we wanted to be part of this landscape providing a much-needed service as the new City Centre takes shape,” he said. “As a classic bistro we feel our food is timeless and that’s reflected in the clientele we attract. There are all sorts here – locals, tourists, young and old.
“As more businesses open and more people frequent the area, we only see more upsides and positives, especially for our wine store and private dining room.”
“Yeah, we all know Luke,” exclaims Andrew Galbraith.
Andrew lives in one of the townhouses in Market Lane.
“I’m eating at Market Bistro every second night and at Giddy Geisha every other,” he says. “The new development and what’s going on here is fantastic. The interesting thing is that in the suburbs you may know your immediate neighbour – like the person or people right next to you – however here with this kind of community, especially where I live, you know everybody!
“It’s incredibly social and you’re running into people all the time and seeing them out at different locations.”
Andrew’s enthusiasm for city living is catching on.
“My brother, and several of my mates have all moved here too. I don’t think I could ever go back to a standalone home,” he says.
There’s a new car in Andrew’s garage however it’s rarely used, something that Amanda sees as an achievement.
“The development is designed as a transit-oriented development,” she says. “The roads are narrower than what you might be used to and that’s so we can prioritise pedestrians and cyclists over cars. The parking rates or times are shorter, and that’s not because we don’t want cars in the City Centre, we want people to be able to have other options and have a real choice in terms of coming and moving around the city.
“We’ll require a good integrated public transport system to realise the full potential of this so we’re advocating strongly for a system that can connect people to and from their homes to their places of work.
“and we’re also keen to make sure that residents who live here have a level of self-containment.”
On the subject of making your own way under your own steam, AusCycling’s National Road Series recently returned to the area and what better stage for organisers than the developing city centre?
“We ran the third edition of Cycle Sunshine Coast, and we took the opportunity to showcase the newly activated Maroochydore City Centre for Stage Three,” says Cycle Sunshine Coast Event Consultant, Aaron Flanagan.
“It featured a fast-paced street criterium under lights on a technical 900m course through the heart of Maroochydore with speeds of well over 50 kph and it was a great chance for the local community to get a taste of elite cycling – and for us as organisers to show-off the City Centre.
Sunshine Coast Council’s multi award-winning City Hall has been open twelve months and it stands tall as a focal point at this stage of the development however the SunCentral CEO says there’ll be more impressive designs and structures taking shape.
“Construction has started on a ten-story private orthopaedic hospital with research and teaching facilities that will collaborate with the University of the Sunshine Coast,” she said.
“‘Our Development Partners Walker Corporation has also started construction on 50 First Avenue, a $90 million, 15-storey commercial building with a NABERs 5-star energy rating. ”
For architectural and interior design consultants Mode Design, moving into the A1 building on First Avenue and embedding themselves into a new and exciting urban landscape came with many benefits, including access to high-speed internet from the International Broadband Submarine Cable.
“We’ve been on the Sunshine Coast for seventeen years, firstly at Dicky Beach and then at Birtinya and with our interest in urban development and master planning we very much wanted to be part of this venture and there’s no better way of being part of it than by being in the mix,” explains Mode Design Managing Principal Rhonan O’Brien.
“The development that’s going on here, once complete, will give a ‘city focus’ for the Sunshine Coast and a business core that hasn’t really been defined in the past. It’s a big attraction and we’ve had four of our staff move from Sydney to permanently base themselves here in our new offices.”
Christine Mount from Luxe Coastal Property Buyers said the development of the Maroochydore City Centre was a game-changer for the region.
“It truly is a ‘City of the Future’ with a plethora of opportunities and, as the first greenfield CBD in Australia, will provide a beating heart to the Sunshine Coast,” she said. “Together with other major infrastructure projects, this is a story of increased connectivity to both Australia and beyond, creating an integrated community where people can work, live and play.
“It has already attracted major tech companies due to its advanced infrastructure, including the undersea broadband cable that enhances internet security.
“Fully occupied office spaces, residential apartments, a hotel, council chambers, and a thriving restaurant scene have already created a thriving community.
“Together with the expansion of the health precinct, and international airport, the Sunshine Coast has strong fundamentals for growth as we move toward the 2032 Olympics, both for commercial and residential property.”
Amanda Yeates echoes the ‘city focus’ sentiment.
“We want to make sure everyone feels this is a city for all the Sunshine Coast, not just Maroochydore, and I like the fact that the work we’re doing will secure a future that our children can enjoy, with real options for high growth, high-quality industries and well-paying jobs,” she said.
“The future is bright and really exciting!”
Listen to our chat with Amanda on the Everyone Has a Story podcast available on all good podcast platforms.