Man’s $74m spend on transforming suburb
SPARKED by a 'for sale' sign on an iconic pub, this man has since spent more than $70 million transforming Brisbane's bayside into one of the city's rising areas.
Justin Ham is responsible for several major developments in Wynnum, investing a total of $74 million in three key projects since 2013.
The developments have helped spark a revitalisation period for the suburb, whose demographic has been rapidly changing from an older population to an influx of young families.
The 38-year-old, father-of-three has invested a total of $74 million into projects in Wynnum since 2013.
Mr Ham, who was born and bred in Bulimba, is the fourth generation to run the family accounting firm, Hambros, which was started by his great grandfather in 1927 and later morphed into property ownership and other type of business interests.
He started working at the firm when he was just 14.
Almost 20 years later his fascination with Wynnum started after buying the iconic Waterloo Bay Hotel, along with another family, in 2013 when he drove past and saw a 'for sale' sign on the pub.
He has since finished a complete refurbishment of the venue, added five new retail bottle shops and a second license at the Gumdale Tavern, bringing his total investment in the hotel to $25 million.
Two years later, he then decided to take on the biggest project of his life, under the banner of Berrima Develop Pty Ltd, giving bayside residents something they had demanded for decades - a cinema.
Currently under construction and employing more than 150 people, the $35 million, 500-seat cinema, which will also feature 66 apartments, is scheduled to launch in early 2021 and is the key behind Mr Ham's dream to build the Wynnum CBD into an entertainment precinct.
"Once completed it would be the end of a five-year dream of ours to deliver the final piece of the entertainment precinct of Wynnum," Mr Ham said.
"It has been a long, up and down, on and off road, but I didn't give up I felt this was what needed to happen and will happen, so exciting times are ahead."
In his latest step to revitalise the suburb, Mr Ham purchased the old IGA centre on the corner Bay Tce and Charlotte St in 2018.
He has since transformed the precinct into a one-stop shop for health and medical with tenants including a gym, a children's play centre, physiotherapists, doctors and more.
But he isn't done with bigger plans in the works for the centre to add to the $14 million already spent on the project.
"We have taken a white elephant which we knew had the potential and put hard efforts into it to get it to where it is today. My family worked long hours completing fit outs and cleaning up that centre which was left in a state of decay," Mr Ham said.
"We are completing leasing the existing centre rentable areas by expanding the then sushi area down to the street, which will see the Bay Tce food lane completed in the coming months. "The internal old mall area will receive a refurb also.
"This area will be a great area for the community to come park, we have 250 spaces, and try different types of food in private or communal sitting spaces.
"In the future the grand plan is to build above the centre with commercial for suburban office spaces and high end apartments with gorgeous views of the bay. The centre can go up to 10 storeys."
Mr Ham said he loved Wynnum and could not wait to see what the suburb is like in the near future when more projects from other developers were also complete.
"Wynnum has always reminded me of the old Bulimba area, where I was born, and a mixture of Bribie Island where I went for each weekend for 10 years and holidays to visit family," he said.
"It's the old families and connections with the sense of community that I compare these two experiences.
"I feel the whole area is going to see the benefits of our efforts, I see house prices increasing over and above other areas, personal living satisfaction and our children live in a better safer place.
"For the future opportunities, we look forward to what is next."
Originally published as Man's $74m spend on transforming suburb