The truth about light rail increasing tower heights
THE elephant in the room during the approval of a luxury boutique tower at Main Beach was light rail. The trams were never discussed. But all Gold Coast residents living on the coastal strip should understand their impact.
Read the 150-page report on the Monaco project and under "key considerations" you will find the site is within the "frame area of the light rail urban renewal area overlay" - essentially the council planning map allowing unlimited development near the tram line.
Look at the pictures from the report, some of which are reproduced here, and you can see the current low-rise buildings on the 898sq m amalgamated lot opposite the Southport Surf Lifesaving Club, and how the new tower will add to the skyline.
What has not been written was how the development could have been so much bigger.
The council officers' report remarked that "the intent for the area is for high-rise development".
The Main Beach Association, which formed a powerful subcommittee of residents from nearby tower body corporates and employed town planning consultants, undertook its own traffic counts and used a drone to film gridlock. It lobbied councillors, got them out to the site.
This was not a Facebook slap-on-the-cheek by keyboard warriors to politicians, but a well-organised and funded campaign by angry residents about tower development in this city.
Main Beach is renowned for the landscaped gardens and pools around high-rise. The Monaco has the city's first sky garages. Residents rightly pitched it as a "watershed moment".
So here is the reality of the moment if you talk to development industry sources circling sites.
"The developers could have gone much higher and denser," a source said. "It's the same size as the other towers.
"This project is in the light rail overlay. The overlay actually encourages densification. Main Beach was big towers with lots of land.
"If you tried to build one of those towers again it would be rejected by council because of the light rail overlay. The zonings are completely different now. That's why council supported it."
So how high could this 25-level tower have reached if developers wanted to push the limits? From a developer's viewpoint, the number of apartments is determined by the amount of parking.
This developers considered they had seven car spaces above what was required, and could have added another seven levels.
If they built another level to the existing basement car park, they could have added another 14 levels.
The Monaco could have been almost 40 storeys high.
This story is bigger than the Monaco. Several other larger and more centrally located sites exist in Main Beach. They can be amalgamated if you have a spare $30 million.
Other developers will attempt to build bigger. For residents upset about losing views and shadowing, the Monaco is the first battle lost in a war.
Originally published as The truth about light rail increasing tower heights