Family mechanic business closes after 46 years amid ‘tightest’ rental market in Sunshine Coast history

A long-running family business on the Sunshine Coast has shut its doors for good, with the owner blaming a lack of affordable rental options.

Third-generation mechanic David Cox downed tools on Tuesday afternoon in what he described as a “tough and emotional” day.

The Maroochydore business was started by his late father Kerry Cox in 1977.

“I think he wouldn’t be very happy about what’s happened,” Mr Cox said.

“I used to go up and down the driveway in my little pedal car when I was three years old.

“There’s a lot of history here — it’s a bit hard to say goodbye.”

Mr Cox said he had been in the middle of negotiating a new lease when the building was sold.

He said he was initially told his lease would continue, but was then informed that the new owner needed the space for storage.

Attempts to find a suitable, affordable alternative proved futile.

“There were older sheds that were a lot larger and they were around $1,000 a month more … and then there was some similar size new ones that were also $1,000 more.”

On the home front

The business closure is a double blow for the family after they were priced out of the Sunshine Coast residential market.

“My wife and I bought a house on the other side of Gympie about five years ago and I was commuting nearly 100 kilometres to work every day,” Mr Cox said.

They have since purchased a home slightly closer at Kandanga, in the Mary Valley.

The mechanic said it was a “worry” to have people unable to afford to live and work in the region.

“A lot of us can see the writing on the wall,” he said.

“Not a lot of people are able to exist in service industries and live on the Coast.”

Tightest market in history

Commercial real estate agent Brendan Robins said Mr Cox was not alone, with people calling his office every day in an often fruitless search for office or industrial space.

“There’s just not the space around to accommodate the businesses that want to grow or relocate,” Mr Robins said

“It’s the tightest office market in the history of the Sunshine Coast right now … we’ve got an overall vacancy factor of 4 per cent … which is probably unhealthy.”

He said industrial space was also being snapped up quickly and the vacancy rate would be between 2 to 4 per cent in most parts of the region.

“Rents have been increasing because tenants don’t have options to shop around,” Mr Robins said.

He said a surge in interstate migrants had added to the competition for commercial space.

“With the migration pattern that occurred over the COVID years, a lot of people have moved here and then relocated their businesses here or started new businesses,” he said.

Kerry Cox founded the mechanic workshop in 1977 and it remained on the same street until its closure this week.(Supplied: David Cox)

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast chairman Matt Diesel said landlords and investors were “feeling the pinch” too.

“On the whole it’s definitely not a case of being greedy. It’s just costs have gone up … interest rates have gone up,” Mr Diesel said.

He said high interest rates had also contributed to “nervousness” in the market among buyers.

“So there’s not the uptake right now for land or for new projects,” Mr Diesel said.

Article source: Queensland Property Investor

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