A surprising time to be building 31 new homes?

THE property market in the Gladstone region still isn't promising says REIQ's March report, but that hasn't stopped the first sod being turned at a 31-home estate in Telina.

Earthworks are underway at the Bimbadeen Estate on Bradford St. We will eventually see retaining walls where the barren hills are and homes running along the single street.

Lot 35 Bradford St Telina: This block is being converted into 31 lots for 31 homes. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Lot 35 Bradford St Telina: This block is being converted into 31 lots for 31 homes. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards GLA170616HOME

But with the median price of homes dropping by 6.7% in a year to $345,000 and the average time a house is on the market being 3-4 months, a local town planner and property developer were surprised the estate was going ahead.

The block sold for $2.3 million in November 2011 and since then owner Indium Properties has been marketing eight varieties of homes on Chinese real estate websites for about $490,000 each.

An artist impression of a home at Bimbadeen Estate
An artist impression of a home at Bimbadeen Estate Property in a box

That puts the overall value of the block at about $15 million once its completed and sold.

The director wouldn't provide comment yesterday, but investor brochures state the rented homes would fetch between $700 a week unfurnished and $850 a week furnished, hard money to get with vacancy rates in Gladstone sitting at 11.3%.

RP Data suggests the median rental price was $300 a week in March, less than half of what the brochure said investors would get in a return.

It's for this reason another major housing estate will be mothballed until the market picks up.

Further to the west Dale Ware is director of Goldfields Calliope with a plan to build 246 homes on a vacant block.

It was one of two projects to receive operational works approval last week.

The other was for a block of 12 units at 4 Boles St, West Gladstone.

The Boles St address with approval to build 12 units on it. Photo Campbell Gellie / The Observer
The Boles St address with approval to build 12 units on it. Photo Campbell Gellie / The Observer Campbell Gellie

Town planner Liam Pinese didn't know when there would be any construction there however, because they had been working on the application for "a fair while".

Goldfield's approval was to build 18 homes in stage one, but Mr Ware said construction was unlikely to start until next year.

"Out in Calliope you've got the shopping centre expansion, construction of the State High School should start next year and that'll get a few things going out there and hopefully we will kick off stage one," he said.

He said with taxes and interest payments adding up as projects remained undeveloped some projects were being forced to go ahead to finally make some money.

At some point developers have to turn the land into cash, he explained.

But town planner for Goldfields Calliope Stephen Enders said any developer would have to be game to build at the moment.

"It's all market driven and there is plenty of stock in the housing market," he said.

"They may know something that others don't and are anticipating a project to come along."

And that is what many people in Gladstone are holding out for, with the only project of any possibility seeming to be Southern Oil Refinery's biofuel plant. We are still some months away before the pilot plant arrives.

That's why the work at Bimbadeen Estate has been embraced by those lucky enough to get it.

Lot 35 Bradford St Telina: This block is being converted into 31 lots for 31 homes. Graham MacLauchlan is hoping to get 20 weeks work on site as it is the first work he has had since October 2015. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Lot 35 Bradford St Telina: This block is being converted into 31 lots for 31 homes. Graham MacLauchlan is hoping to get 20 weeks work on site as it is the first work he has had since October 2015. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards GLA170616HOME

For Graham McLauchlan getting the job broke an eight-month period of unemployment, and after the 21 weeks it will take for the earthworks to be completed he hopes he can quickly line up another job.

But he is one of the lucky ones, with the project manager on the site saying that within the first week he had about 30 people turn up on the site looking for work.

He admired their desire to find work but unfortunately he had all of the 10 positions filled.

In fact, all the workers on the site are Indigenous and employed through Indigenous Projects Services Alliance, a joint venture between Maranoa Civil and Jangga Operations.

The aim of the alliance is to give Indigenous people a career in the fields "they want" in their native land according to Jangga employment advocate, Irene Leard.

Two of the workers on the site are not from Gladstone but the other eight are all local Indigenous workers.

"They get the benefits of working on their country," she said.

"We bring them up to level and they will be employable for ever."

Bimbadeen Estate