The Esplanade Burleigh site to make way for 18-level tower

THERE well could be a wry smile on the face of former whale-watching queen Mimi Macpherson if she drives along the beachfront at Burleigh Heads in the next three to four months.

Mimi will see a pile of rubble where a luxury nine-level apartment building she completed a mere 13 years ago today stands proud and she might well wonder, financially, what might have been.

Her Aspect on Burleigh is to make way for an even bigger dose of luxury in a move that illustrates the love affair developers have been enjoying with beachfront projects and, more significantly, the lusty prices they have been prepared to pay for premium sites.

The 1011 sqm site on The Esplanade is to make way for an 18-level tower tagged Natura and with not seven apartments, like Aspect, but 33.

The irony for Mimi, who was bankrupted in 2009, is that if she'd land-banked the site instead of developing it, she'd have come up smelling like a rose.

Mimi and her development partner paid $2.45 million for the 1011 sqm site in 2003.

The developer planning to bowl Aspect mid-year has paid a tad over $16 million.

That figure is the latest example of prices for sites with beachfront 'aspects' skyrocketing, helped in some cases by changes to planning rules that have allowed greater densities.

Spyre's paying almost $16,000 a square metre.

Mimi, sister of supermodel Elle Macpherson, and partner Andrew Pappas paid a mere $2423 a square metre.


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They sold the whole Aspect building - six single-floor apartments and a penthouse - for a total of $8.95 million, admittedly with a bit of nudging from lender Mark McIvor's later-failed Equititrust group.

It's not too long ago that observers would have scorned the idea of a developer being able to pay such bullish land prices as Spyre and others and still make a project work.

In fact, when the Spyre move on the sail-shaped Aspect filtered out, there were plenty of doubters about the wisdom of the Brisbane group's move.

Synergy group offshoot Forme also was bullish when buying adjoining sites for the boutique Norfolk and Luna towers in Burleigh's beachfront Garfield Tce.

Artists impressions of the Natura tower which has been approved to replace Mimi Macpherson's Aspect on Burleigh. Picture: Supplied
Artists impressions of the Natura tower which has been approved to replace Mimi Macpherson's Aspect on Burleigh. Picture: Supplied

It paid $12,747 a square metre for the 1012 sqm Norfolk site and $10,870 a square metre for the 506 sqm Luna holding, a figure which effectively might be higher once other costs have been factored in.

Those costs relate to buying out the lease and business of The Fish House, which occupies the land and closed its doors on Friday (subs: correct).

Burleigh isn't the only area that's seen the prices of blue-chip sites surge.


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Another example is the $12,000 a square metre or so that Paul Gedoun, a partner in the Pointcorp group, is paying for a holding overlooking Rainbow Bay at Coolangatta.

In Surfers Paradise, a Sydney group is paying close to $16,000 a square metre for the 1012 sqm site that holds the 38-year-old Anglesea unit block.

Meanwhile, sideline observer Ross Nielson, a Brisbane developer, must be chuffed with a beachfront Burleigh purchase he instigated five years ago.

He's secured the aged White Horses units, on a 3035 sqm holding on The Esplanade, in a deal that amounts to a modest $6600 or so a square metre.