New ‘fishy’ airport development
THERE'S something fishy in the air, in the most positive sense, on the southern side of the Gold Coast Airport.
A major national food supplier, born out of the seafood industry more than 150 years ago, appears set to wing it into a major new base on airport land.
The move might well provide a jobs fillip - that's not fillet - for the southern end.
All the ducks appear to be in a row for PFD Food Services to step into a new distribution centre on a site once used for drive-in movies and at one time earmarked for a Harbour Town-style project and later a Masters hardware warehouse.
PFD won't own the centre - it will be built by Queensland Airports on a major portion of a 5.1ha site which the private company bought for $11.45 million four years ago.
The PFD name first surfaced on the Gold Coast 20 years ago and its operation hasn't looked back.
Eight years ago, when it had 45 staff, it spent $4 million to triple the size of its base at Ourimbah Rd, Tweed Heads, turning it into a state-of-the-art facility.
Clearly, it's been suffering from growing pains of the most joyful type - hence the planned move to the new distribution centre.
The two-stage development - a builder has been chosen for the initial stage - will not only allow for future expansion, but obviously will lead to a surge in the numbers on the PFD payroll.
It appears when the initial stage is completed, staff numbers could go from 60 or so people to more than 100.
PFD evolved from a fresh-fish operation that started in Melbourne in 1864 and which was transformed into a processed-fish business in 1943
Today it operates Australia's largest privately-owned food service network, with more than 70 bases and in excess of 3000 staff, and customers that range from hospitals, schools and clubs to pubs and airlines.
Ultimately, PFD's unlikely to be the only tenant on the former drive-in site - the land's being split into five titles, a move which will allow for a staging of development and the possible future sell-off of the stages.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Airports move to develop the former drive-in site adds to the company's focus on commercial and educational development on some of 25ha it spent $32 million buying in various deals over a period of years.
That development includes a 192-room Rydges hotel.
The airport owner stepped into the commercial market six years ago when it bought the Airport Central precinct, at the entrance to the airport, from receivers.
Its drive-in movie site was bought from the owners of Boyds Bay Garden World, Glenn Dawney and John Nosworthy, who bought it in 1993.
The partners gained approval 13 years later for a business park, including bulky goods, on the land - a rezoning effort initially spearheaded by UK group Maro, which planned a $120 million outlet shopping-style centre on the land.
Maro pulled out when the impact of the GFC became evident.
Masters came into the equation in 2013 with plans to buy and develop half of the Garden World site.
The group gained development approval for its plans, which included a state-of-the-art garden centre to replace Garden World.
Woolies and its US partner later got cold feet and withdrew, subsequently getting even colder feet and shutting shop completely in Australia.
Originally published as New 'fishy' airport development