This week marks one year to go until the 2018 Commonwealth Games kicks off on the Gold Coast. Now, 12 months may seem like a lot of time to plan a few opening ceremony dancers and make sure Metricon stadium has enough Dagwood dogs in the freezer; but in actual fact, there is still a lot of work to do. So, how are plans going and are we going to make the deadline?
The event will be held over 2 weeks, across some 18 world-class facilities including the new Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, and Carrara Sporting Complex. Some venues, such as the Broadbeach Bowls Club are undergoing upgrades, whereas several new facilities are still to be completed.
The most colossal of the ongoing projects is the athlete’s village in the former Southport Parklands area. Private Melbourne-based developer Grocon snagged the coveted rights to develop 7 hectares of the 29-hectare site for the Commonwealth Games Village precinct; which will include apartments and townhouses to accommodate 6600 athletes and officials during the games.
A further 7.3 hectares will be dedicated to ‘open space’ and parkland, while the rest of the site will be retained by the government for future development in the ‘burgeoning health and retail district’. While there are several rather (un)interesting time-lapse videos you can feast your eyes on—this rather more beautiful ‘artist’s impression’ will give you an idea of what the area will look like (fingers, toes and everything else crossed) upon the opening of the games in April 2018.
Works started in earnest in late 2015, and with concrete-and-scaffolding structures popping out of the ground left, right and centre, things have certainly come a long way. But, are Grocon going to present GOLDOC with the shiny, new development of their dreams? Well, there’s still speculation surrounding that. The developers have been plagued with their fair share of hiccups, including crushing poor workmen with sheets of plasterboard, and blowing out on costs. The $533 million project is being funded by Grocon and their investors. In return, Grocon will retain the precinct for rent and sale of apartments once the games have concluded. Unfortunately for Grocon, their fixed-price development has turned out to be not-so-fixed in price.
Recently, they applied for a $50 million injection of funds from the Queensland government—who, sassily waving a finger, told Grocon to sort out their own mess. Typical of political rhetoric, Commonwealth Games Minister, Stirling Hinchliffe’s spokesperson told enquirers that the construction remained ‘on time and on budget..for the fixed-price contract’. Except that clearly, it’s not at all. Or else Grocon are trying to pull the old ‘Mum, I need some more pocket money, I spent the rest on…things you would approve of!’ trick, while pocketing the extra cash and saving it all up for a Nintendo.
After more prodding, the spokesperson admitted that EDQ (Economic Development Queensland) were aware of the overspend.
“EDQ is aware that Grocon has incurred some additional costs in construction but the resolution of this is a matter between Grocon and the investment consortium,” said Hinchliffe’s spokesperson.
Which, I think we can all agree, is like telling the kids to ‘work it out themselves’ when one sibling takes a box cutter to the other’s Bob the Builder action figure. What followed was a back-and-forth between Grocon, the media and the government officials, around who’s allowed to ask for money, who said what to whom, and a lot of other useless banter.
While the media sits eagerly at the edge of their seats waiting for construction mayhem, and athletes hope they won’t be faced with Rio-style lack of plumbing and electrics in their village, Gold Coast residents wonder ‘will 1200+ new residences lower property prices’ and ‘can we give the entire English consortium some kind of stomach bug and get away with it?’
Stay tuned, punters. 364 days to go!