John Pernell says HOTA and the green bridge are the catalyst for the revitalisation. (ABC Gold Coast: Julie Clift)
It is no secret that Chevron Island on the Gold Coast has been on struggle street in recent years.
In early 2020, it was described as a ghost town, and when COVID-19 took hold in Australia windows along the famous strip were plastered with ‘for lease’ signs.
But has this natural island — sandwiched between Surfers Paradise and Bundall — found its mojo again?
Business owners Jo-Anne and Paul Ramunno said there was a renewed buzz in the area since the arrival of HOTA, the Home of the Arts precinct.
“We are fully booked, all our tables were packed-out for dine-ins as well as the takeaways and deliveries. We are definitely noticing an increase in general to Chevron Island,” Mrs Ramunno said.
“If that is thanks to HOTA we thank you. Any help this island can get to create a community feel is great.”
Paul and Jo-Anne Ramunno run a pizzeria on Chevron Island. (ABC Gold Coast: Julie Clift)
More could still be done to revitalise the space and increase the flow of traffic from Surfers Paradise to Chevron Island, Mr Ramunno said.
“Chevron is the diamond in the rough that needs someone to come and give it a sense of identity,” he said.
“I would like to see a weaving passage of modern art, places to sit and eat something, because at the moment it seems like five lanes of cars parked or driving through.
“We’re right next to the art gallery. Let’s have that connection with retailers and HOTA where we refer our customers there to go listen to some live music.”
‘We need to support it’
Resident and member of the Chevron Island Business and Residents Association, John Pernell, moved to Chevron Island for its vibrant atmosphere, but said the new HOTA gallery had given the place a “new lease of life”.
“We knew HOTA would be operations central and we love being able to walk anywhere without having to drive,” he said.
“When I joined the committee, I said lets not underestimate the value of HOTA. It’s the principal asset in this region and we need to support it.
“Where we’re located in relation to HOTA — Surfers Paradise, the light rail, the hop-on hop-off, the green bridge and new art gallery — combines to make Chevron a really vibrant community now.”
The $60.5 million HOTA Gallery in Surfers Paradise is now Australia’s largest regional art gallery. (Supplied: HOTA)
Follow the green bridge
HOTA and the green bridge is a catalyst for the revitalisation of the suburb, Mr Pernell said.
The green bridge — which is actually blue — is a 130-metre-long pedestrian and cycling link across the Nerang River connecting Chevron Island and HOTA to Bundall.
The 130-metre-long green bridge connects HOTA and Chevron Island to Bundall. (Supplied: HOTA)
“We need to piggyback on all their activities so Chevron can benefit from having the bridge, a great range of new restaurants, shops, bars, and restaurants,” Mr Pernell said.
“It’s a matter of getting out, talking to the locals and saying ‘hey, we’ve got this fabulous asset across the green bridge now’.
“Collectively we are a very strong group, individually not so strong.”
Where to next for Chevron?
Mr Pernell said an “anchor tenant” is needed to attract a large number of shoppers to Chevron, as well as renovating the island’s retail precinct.
“If we could get a major operator — a Coles, Woolworths, or Aldi — to move in, that would attract a lot more people and make a great contribution,” he said.
Styling projects and street art and music could also help to revitalise the space, Mr Pernell said.
Division 10 councillor Darren Taylor said the art precinct and the gallery is already “paying dividends”.
“Sense of place is people being in the area and we are starting to create that now,” he said.
Cr Taylor said there might not be the private space currently available to house a major supermarket.
“As we move forward, development will improve and we will attract these types of investments into the area,” he said.
Originally published by ABC News HERE.