CONSTRUCTION officially began last week on a new central business district for the Sunshine Coast, which is forecast to create more than 30,000 permanent jobs in the region by 2040 and provide a $5.9 billion boost to the Queensland economy over the project's 20-year life.
Premier Annastacia Palaczszuk turned the first sod on the prime 53-hectare SunCentral Maroochydore development site, which promises to showcase excellence in urban design, technology and innovation, including some Australian firsts, such as automatic waste collection.
SunCentral Maroochydore's Chief Executive Officer John Knaggs said the unique development represented a coming of age for the region.
"The Sunshine Coast is already the second highest performing regional economy in Queensland and the fifth highest nationally," Mr Knaggs said.
"With the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital due for completion at the end of this year along with the planned expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport, the new city centre at Maroochydore will ensure we are rising to the challenge of growth, with a clear focus on jobs.
"The Sunshine Coast population has risen from 65,000 to 335,800 in the past 40 years and by 2040, well over half a million people are likely to call the region home."
The Council-owned land would deliver more than $300 million in public space and infrastructure to the people of the Sunshine Coast.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the site on the former Horton Park Golf Club would be transformed over the next two decades to include commercial buildings, destination retail outlets, a premium hotel, civic facilities and an exhibition, convention and entertainment centre, with 40 per cent of the new city centre site dedicated to waterways and parkland.
"This is Australia's only greenfield CBD within an existing urban area, which provides us with the opportunity to build from scratch, a city centre that is able to meet the needs of people both now and in the future," Mayor Jamieson said.
"Applying our smart city framework – which includes digital solutions for the management of street lighting, car parking, water, power and signage that is detected by smartphones and other technologies, and where rubbish bins are emptied via automated underground tubes means SunCentral Maroochydore will become a nation-leading destination for innovative businesses.
"Importantly, given its significance to the Sunshine Coast, this is a project owned by the community. Independent expert analysis suggests our new city centre will grow our local economy by $4.4 billion over the life of the project."
SunCentral Maroochydore's CEO said the project was vital to preventing urban sprawl on the Sunshine Coast and would deliver a viable commercial hub, public recreational facilities and an interconnected city.
"Urban sprawl has been a challenge on the Sunshine Coast for decades and SunCentral Maroochydore is about consolidating future development and delivering an outstanding city centre,'' Mr Knaggs said.
"The State Government has already designated a rail corridor into the heart of Maroochydore which would improve transport to the city, and light rail proposals by Council will service the city centre in future years.
"There will also be a focus on active transport in the new city – walking and cycling – and public transport, rather than private vehicles.