Unlocking the hidden wealth beneath your feet

There would be few, if any, club boards that aren’t keen to look at ways of diversifying income streams in order to strengthen their club’s financial future. But where, exactly, should they start?

Well, according to David Wing and Greg Wilson, the principals of specialist property advisory company, Club Property Solutions (CPS), the best place to begin is often the most overlooked… The land right under your feet! 

Community clubs are, by their nature, property-based enterprises, but, as Greg Wilson explains, very few have an informed strategy for maximizing the value and use of their underlying property assets… That is, very few clubs actually understand the real potential of the property they control.

"With the right advice and guidance,” he explains, “it’s often possible for a club to unlock wealth and opportunity from its property holdings that it never realized existed!” 

If their experience and qualifications are anything to go by, David and Greg should know what they’re talking about. Greg has 35 years under his belt as a successful developer, development manager and advisor, while David (who is a qualified lawyer and accountant) has over 25 years’ experience in the property and finance sectors and specializes in the design and implementation of property and finance strategies. Over the years the pair have worked together on a wide range of projects and together they have an impressive client list: organizations spread across the not-for-profit, corporate and government sectors to whom they provide strategic property advice. CPS was formed 18 months ago as a vehicle for bringing their skills and expertise to the club sector.

Put simply, they explain, a club’s “campus” (the land it occupies) – or other property assets it owns – may be suitable for a whole range of additional and complementary uses such as short-stay accommodation, seniors’ living, specialist retail and professional premises, additional sport and recreation uses and even child care. Their unique experience across all property sectors allows them to rapidly assess potential and devise and implement strategies that allow its realization.

“Most community clubs have a clear picture of their operational needs,” says David. “And, they often have trusted established relationships with architects, designers and contractors who can guide them through the process of refurbishing or extending existing facilities, and planning new clubs. But designing and executing a comprehensive and profitable property-use strategy is another matter entirely. Successful creative property-use strategies,” he adds, “can completely redefine a community club. But they require a range of skills and experience extending well beyond a single discipline.”

According to David, the first step for any club wanting to explore the hidden potential of its property assets is to obtain a thorough professional review of its property resources. “From there we can explore potential and develop plans that are tailored to the club’s objectives.”
 
"The development of successful creative property-use strategies is a holistic process,” Greg explains. “It evolves from the understanding and interpretation of a wide range of factors which requires a detailed knowledge of property economics and experience of the development process.

“In the case of a typical community club,” he adds, “there is a whole range of additional factors that need to be understood, as well. For example: 
  • The club’s purpose, profile, objectives and underlying business 
  • Club member and local area demographics
  • The particular site (reviewed from the locational, physical, and planning perspectives)
  • ​The local property market and all relevant local market factors and influences
  • Potential use opportunities and constraints
  • The range of property uses that may be viable in the location and will assist in driving the club’s business and objectives 
  • How the financial metrics of these uses will look in each particular situation
  • The relative viability and ‘bankability’ of the various identified uses / options
  • How the club can potentially gain optimum benefit from any particular project 

“It may be possible for a club to monetize the value of its  undeveloped or underdeveloped land through either a long-term leasehold arrangement (potentially establishing a new recurrent income stream) or by the return of capital through sale of part of the site,” David explains. “However, there can be other significant direct financial benefits, as well, for the club, such as the potential reduction of recurrent costs and the possible recovery of existing overheads through the provision of services to the new facility.”

“But that said, any new use or mix of uses proposed to be co-located on any existing club campus shouldn’t just provide tangible economic benefits for the club,” he adds. “It should also offer broader benefits for members and the community that reflect the club’s evolution while also staying true to the club’s purpose.

The pair refer to examples in NSW where a number of seniors living villages, hotels and other uses have, over the last few years, been developed in co-location on club sites. 

“There are some stunning examples out there, of really imaginative and highly profitable projects developed on club land,” David points out. “And in a number of instances, the club has actually retained ownership – or partial ownership – of the completed project. 

“We have the experience and ability to show Queensland Clubs how they can follow these examples.”

CPS Case Studies 

As an example of what can be contemplated, Club Property Solutions has shared a couple of their current portfolio of projects.  CPS’s five current committed transaction partners include a Brisbane Golf Club, a Boat Club, two RSL organisations and a major regional Leagues Club. 

Three of these projects involve the management of negotiations with state government authorities in relation to often quite complex land tenure issues. 

SUNSHINE COAST Club Villages Project

Planning is now well advanced for this proposed 70-unit “Club Villages” boutique retirement living project, set to be developed on a near beachfront community club site on the Sunshine Coast
 
Urangan harbour redevelopment masterplan

In the largest project currently on the CPS drawing board, CPS and Hervey Bay Boat Club have entered into a Development Agreement to undertake a multi-stage redevelopment of the Boat Club’s prime Urangan Harbour holdings. Project elements include a proposed 140 room 4-star hotel and 120 “Club Villages” Seniors’ Living Apartments, all enjoying spectacular views across Great Sandy Straits to Fraser Island. Other stages include an innovative waterfront entertainment and food and beverage precinct, and a new multi-level carpark for club patrons. This transformational project has won the enthusiastic support of Fraser Coast Regional Council and other local authorities and is seen as being transformational in establishing Urangan Harbour as the tourism focal point of the Fraser Coast

Regional city - proposed 60-unit co-located club villages project

One of CPS’s original exemplar projects involved this study for the development of a 60-unit “Club Villages” project planned for co-location on a major Central Queensland Sporting Club site.