Scarborough Fair Shopping Centre first opened on 21 March 1983 on the corner of Scarborough and Young Streets, Southport. The site had previously included the Southport Methodist Church, constructed in 1926 before being relocated and eventually demolished in 2014, and the administrative and bottling buildings for the South Coast Co-Operative Dairy Association, designed by the architectural firm Hall and Phillips in 1936 and demolished in July 1972. The Scarborough Fair complex contained a Franklins supermarket, Treasureway, 40 specialty stores and 200 car spaces. Pat Zarro was the developer and the centre was owned by AFT Property.
The second stage of the shopping centre, which incorporated 1.7 hectares facing onto Marine Parade, opened in 1984. The Burns Philip Trustee Company bought the centre in 1987 for approximately $54 million with the hope of further expansion. A century-old Moreton Bay fig tree and an adjoining camphor laurel tree were chosen to be a focal point in the eastern section of the centre with an open air food court established surrounding the mature trees.
In 1988 the Pacific Hotel facing the Broadwater, near the corner of Nerang Street and Marine Parade, was demolished to make way for further expansion of Scarborough Fair along Marine Parade.
In 1990 the newly expanded shopping centre, renamed Australia Fair Shopping Centre, was officially opened by Mayor Lex Bell. A highlight of the opening was a large display of sculptures and antiques arrayed throughout the centre featuring water fountains, furniture, and Roman gods and goddesses. The expansion allowed easy movement for shoppers between the Nerang Street Mall and the two shopping areas in Marine Parade and Scarborough Street. The complex spread over 100,000 square metres and included Woolworths, Coles, Franklins, Kmart, 246 speciality shops, four restaurants, a fresh food hall and a drive-through bottle shop with provision for 2,000 undercover car spaces. A new version of the Pacific Hotel, renamed Hotel Pacific, was also included in the complex.
A further extension in 1993 to the first floor introduced a six-cinema complex with 1,600 seats. The cinema complex expanded again in 1997 to ten screens and 2,500 seats.
Colonial First State Investments and a subsidiary of UK based MEPC were part of a joint venture deal that purchased Australia Fair for $142 million in 1998. In 2001, Mr Gordon Fu (YFG Shopping Centres) purchased Australia Fair for $162 million.
On 5 March 2012, arborists began to remove the 130-year-old fig tree and two younger fig trees, clones of the original plant, were planted in its place prior to their own removal in a subsequent upgrade. In 2014 redevelopment began on Australia Fair West to incorporate new restaurants and shops, with a view to modernising this area of Southport as part of the Chinatown precinct and the revitalisation of Southport as a central business district for the Gold Coast. This western side was renamed Australia Fair Metro and continues to be linked by an overpass walkway over Scarborough Street to the eastern cinema complex and shopping precinct.
A major expansion of Coles to include the area known as Fig Tree Court began in 2016 with further upgrades planned for the following years.
Sources of information and further reading
- Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.) March 22, 1983, p.13.
- Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.) April 17, 1984, p. 50.
- Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.) July 22, 1987, p. 3.
- $300m showplace to woo shoppers (1990, April 7). Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.).
- Australia Fair, the story (1990, April 9). Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 8.
- A fair slice of history (1991, July 3). Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 10.
- Galton, Barry. Southport to get $8m movie centre (1992, October 16). Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 5.
- Growing with the tide (2004, September 24). Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 29.
- Maeseele, Melanie. Tree axing cuts deep (2012, March 7). Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 5.
- Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.) January 15, 2016. Web version. Retrieved January 17, 2017 from http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/business/southports-australia-fair-shopping-centre-to-get-25-million-revamp/news-story/9f53ec15c2a8744416423ccb24bd7f52