Nearly 150 Gold Coast residents are on the brink of losing their underground parking, thanks in large part to a spectacularly successful business deal struck by the consortium of local mayor Tom Tate.
The parking lot is being sold among them as part of a sale of a $22 million former bowling alley purchased by Tate and his business partners for a fraction of its value.
Bill Cahill is one of the residents facing an estimated loss of more than $100,000 on the value of his apartment in the Surfers Plaza resort if it no longer has its own parking space.
“We’re hard-working Australian fighters just trying and I feel like what’s happening to us right now is absolutely crippling us financially,” Cahill said.
“My family and the residents of Surfers Plaza Resort wouldn’t be in this position at all if our city’s mayor, Tom Tate, hadn’t been there.”
Tate is a property developer, and before running for mayor, a company he partially owned took over the financially troubled Surfers Paradise Bowls Club in 2005, with a plan to bail it out.
Instead, it was closed for renovations and never reopened, upsetting bowling club members with one that told Nine News at the time: “They’ll put a high-rise on it, you couldn’t put enough money on it”.
The principal piece of real estate associated with the club was valued at between $10 million and $14 million and was the subject of two offers to purchase it for over $7 million.
But in 2007, one of Tate’s companies quietly bought most of the club’s bowling greens for just $770,000.
Tate refused to answer A current matter how he could buy the land for such a low price.
A current matter suggests no impropriety in that transaction.
Below the bowling alley is a car park built as part of the Surfers Plaza development but on a separate title.
The residents had a lease until 2032 to use the parking garage, but that has since been terminated.
After failed attempts to build a high-rise project on the bowling green land, Tate and his business partners put the block up for sale last year.
It sold for $22 million with a settlement in September.
The deal would deliver a spectacular 628 percent return on the Tate consortium’s investment, adding an additional $2.25 million to a smaller portion of the bowling alley owned by the state government.
Another Surfers Plaza resident, Mark Eastlake, said he was “absolutely stunned” at the $22 million sale.
“22 million dollars without any respect for all of us who live here,” Eastlake said.
“It’s all about the money. It’s all about the money.”
Another piece of the bowling alley is owned by Gold Coast City Council and is now also for sale.
The problem for the residents of Surfers Plaza relates to a previous development request for the part owned by the municipality, which included a requirement that any future project on the bowling alleys must also provide them with 150 parking spaces.
That condition has now been withdrawn and a Gold Coast City Council spokesman declined to answer A current matter ask why.
“The parking requirement of Surfers Plaza Resort is a matter for Surfers Plaza Resort,” said the spokesperson.
“Any future development application will be assessed in accordance with the Council’s legal obligations.”
Tate’s brief statement did not address specific questions about residents’ future car parking, or how to secure such a healthy return on investment.
“That building was approved about 1985. I arrived on the Gold Coast in 1995 and was not elected mayor until 17 years later,” the statement said.
The residents of Surfers Plaza are furious with the Gold Coast mayor and city council.
“We want answers from Tom Tate. We want answers from the Gold Coast City Council as to why this is happening,” Cahill said.
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