Start-ups flourish along light rail route

23 Oct
The newest near you feature on the Urbanspoon app.

The newest near you feature on the Urbanspoon app.

By Aasha Purling, Bond University journalism student

Most of the Gold Coast’s newest bars and cafes are concentrated along the light rail route, as evidenced by a Google map feature on a popular smartphone app.

Urbanspoon recently featured the Gold Coast on its “newest near you” list, indicating substantial development of a café and bar precinct along the Gold Coast Highway, mirroring the light rail system’s route only months ahead of its launch date in mid-2014.

The application, likened to Trip Advisor for cafés, restaurants and bars, uses GPS to determine the newest eateries in the user’s closest CBD and are ranked by users, critic reviews, and value for money.

The light rail system is set to create a convenient transport service for commuters and tourists, with shopping hubs and eateries forming along the 14-kilometre route from Gold Coast University Hospital to Broadbeach South.

Entrepreneurs have shifted their focus from the “glitter strip” to the Gold Coast Highway’s light rail route all the way to Southport, showing significant growth around the 16-station construction sites.

Development was also trending as far south as Miami, with plans for a Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads corridor currently in its concept stages.

Chamber of Commerce vice-president Boyd Sargeant confirmed that there had been a dramatic shift of focus ahead of the rail opening, but also changes in the type of small businesses beginning to open their doors.

“There’s some great new places all the way along the route and plenty more still to come. Brazilian, Latin, Japanese – you name it,” Mr Sergeant said.

“We’ll still see families here for school holidays but we’re trying to cater for the younger student community and over 65s too. This should meet everyone’s needs.”

On local community blog Southport Star, Gold Coast City councillor Dawn Crichlow said while infrastructural work has been tough on business, Southport is just one example of the project’s positive movements towards revitalising the city.

“The whole area is full of young entrepreneurs. Wonderful isn’t it? Things are happening everywhere,” she said.

Julian, owner and barista at newly established café 42Fifteen, said the light rail will provide convenient transport and encourage passengers to explore suburbs outside of the glitter strip.

“Rent is cheaper outside of Surfers, and with the tram and rail lines, there’s no reason for our target patrons not to make their way down to us,” he said. “We’re already doing well, but give us a year and it’ll be crazy– all it takes is a bit of foresight.”

Contrary to a slew of negative publicity surrounding construction and retail revenue in the Surfers Paradise area, the benefits of the light rail have begun to emerge within the past few months.

Despite the construction process  crippling Surfers Paradise businesses,  light rail construction company GoldLinQ’s media relations manager Zoe Hancock said they were working directly with businesses negatively effected by the Stage One construction phase.

“Our project team is acutely aware of the pressures facing small businesses across the city in light of the current financial climate,” Miss Hancock said.

Outside the retail sector, however, GoldLinq has built a focus on the economic, environmental and social benefits of light rail, sourcing 90.6% of materials and labour from the Gold Coast’s local market. Growth and development is set to increase when funds are committed to the line’s extension.

CAPTION: Urbanspoon’s “newest near you” shows the newest restaurants and eateries are creating a definite bar and café precinct along the light rail line


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