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By Louise Morrisey
August 13, 2018
Held on Australia’s Gold Coast, the 2018 Commonwealth Games was one of Queensland’s biggest construction undertakings in recent times. So far, although the sporting facilities and the Athlete’s Village cost approximately $2 billion to build, the Commonwealth Games was viewed by many residents and politicians as a successful undertaking for the region.
Now, four months after the end of the event, the Athlete’s Village and associated sporting structures are entering their post-games existence – begging questions about what will become of the development. As the investment was considerable, it is especially important to ensure the Gold Coast region gets an adequate return on it in the long-term.
The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s fastest growing regions. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, its population is set to hit upwards of 1 million people by 2034, more than a decade earlier than previously expected. Large-scale construction undertaking like the Commonwealth Games is assisting with putting this region in the national and international spotlight.
However, as with many such purpose-built constructions, there’s a huge amount of forward-planning needed to ensure the site is reused in sustainable and vibrant ways in the future. This is to protect both the citizens and landscape of the region from any decay.
From Athletics to a Health and Knowledge Precinct
Recently, Jobsite ANZ spoke to a spokesperson from the Office of the Commonwealth Games, who noted that the site’s intention was always to be a multipurpose entity.
“After the games, we will provide a legacy through a mixed-use residential and commercial development, and community infrastructure for those working, studying, and visiting the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct,” according to the spokesperson.
The multi-billion dollar Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, which includes Gold Coast University Hospital and Griffith University, is set to support more than 26,000 full-time equivalent positions, positioning the region as an emerging innovation hub and strong key player in the Gold Coast economy.
As for the future, there are even more plans to expand the existing site.
“Future development of the 200,000 square metres of gross floor area within the Precinct is anticipated to boost the local economy by more than $1 billion over the next 20 years and support more than 10,000 jobs through construction and ongoing employment,” the Office of the Commonwealth Games spokesperson added.
This month, expressions of interest were opened for businesses that want to move into the site of the Athletes Village, with large stores like Woolworths already planned for the area. Tthe area will continue to “offer investors unique opportunities for industry development and research development within a global business location.”
Avoiding White Elephants
The forward-planning conducted in the Commonwealth Games construction to repurpose the venues and villages will futureproof the site from the dreaded ‘White Elephant’ syndrome, which plagues many former Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games sites worldwide.
For example, in the years following the 2004 Athens Olympic games, many of the venues purpose-built for the Olympics fell into disrepair. Even today, they’re abandoned and overgrown with weeds. This is not an uncommon eventuality, with the short-term economic benefit of hosting the Games (through avenues such as tourism, hospitality, and transportation) often overriding the longer-term impacts of upkeep and repurposing.
As recently noted by real estate publication Curbed, the Athens Olympics baseball stadium, mostly unused for 12 years following the games, was turned into an impromptu refugee camp. It marked “a rare reuse of a very expensive structure built for a two-week event, with seemingly little thought of what would happen after.”
The massive cost of these construction projects can have serious long-term consequences for cities if the correct legacy planning is not conducted at the outset.
Luckily, in the case of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the region’s planning and reuse will ensure it remains an active part of the state’s economy and environment for decades to come.
Marathon Construction Efforts on the Gold Coast Ahead of 2018 Commonwealth Games
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