Aveo could cash in $75m former Marist Brothers farm

An aerial view of the former Marist Brothers farm in Currumbin Valley.

Aveo, bruised retirement village operator, could be poised to cash in a painful Gold Coast asset as it prepares to lift its operations, literally, in the tourism capital.

It appears the listed Brisbane company is about to market a Currumbin Valley property bought at high cost in the year before the GFC.

The money from the former Marist Brothers farm, which cost Aveo $75 million, might well be destined to help pay for two Gold Coast projects.

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One is a vertical retirement tower at Labrador and the other an oldies’ village at Sanctuary Cove.

An aerial view of the former Marist Brothers farm in Currumbin Valley.

Aveo, whose major shareholder is Sanctuary Cove owner Mulpha, is in the process of a reputation fightback after criticism of its contracts and exit fees.

That criticism has seen its shares battered — they have been selling at half their asset backing.

Geoff Grady, a former receiver who ran Sanctuary Cove for Mulpha after its purchase, today is at the helm of Aveo and has been reshaping its offerings to retirees.

His expected push to sell the Currumbin Valley property comes four years after an unsuccessful bid to find a buyer.

The 153ha property carries approval for 348 lots in an estate with lakes and tagged Martha’s Vineyard but residential projects no longer are part of Aveo’s business.

It’s been exiting such assets, including the Gasworks venture in Brisbane, to focus 100 per cent on its retirement village business.

There’ll certainly be plenty of interest in how Aveo fares in its new bid to exit the Currumbin Valley land.

An aerial view of the former Marist Brothers farm in Currumbin Valley.

Among the curious observers may well be former Gold Coast developer Noel Gordon, who bought the property from the Marist Brothers via his listed Gordon Pacific group for $13.3 million in 1988.

He had ideas of putting a golf course on the rolling farm to service guests in a mooted beachfront project at Currumbin.

The property was sold for $23.5 million in 1990 to Japan’s Co-You group, which gained a green light for a hotel and 645 houses and apartments but retreated.

Devine Ltd struck a deal with Co-You and went through various planning machinations, with the then Labor Government in 2006 calling the project in and approving it.

The following year Devine sold out to an arm of the listed FKP group, the forerunner to Aveo, for that rather handsome $75 million figure.

It appears Aveo won’t get within a mile of achieving that money should it succeed in finding a buyer.

An aerial view of the former Marist Brothers farm in Currumbin Valley.

It was suggested a couple of years back that there was a buyer in the wings at $30 million but that deal didn’t go ahead.

Meanwhile, Aveo is ploughing ahead with plans for its 16-level retirement tower at Labrador — it’s called building tenders.

It’s also well on the way to realising its ambition of building a retirement village on a $15 million site at Sanctuary Cove, thanks to the State Government amending Cove planning laws.

This article from the Gold Coast Bulletin originally appeared as “AVEO to cash in Currumbin Valley asset to pay for two new development projects”.