Former ‘King of Hedges’ turns to Palm Beach
TONY Smith, an entrepreneurial former AFL player who once sported the tag the King of Hedges, is heading back to the beach, but not to long-time favourite property playground Mermaid Beach.
Tony, over nearly 18 years, has been involved in deals worth more than $80 million along Mermaid's Hedges and Albatross avenues.
The latest came last year with the then record-equally $25 million sale of the family home in Heron Ave.
Tony's taken some of the dosh and headed south to Palm Beach, the beachfront suburb that has become in vogue with developers from far and wide.
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It seems he's of a view that he can buy land fronting a beach that he regards as equal to that at Mermaid for less money and with plenty of upside.
He's noted that some beachfront apartments at Palm Beach are selling for more than $4 million and has worked out that he can buy homes fronting the ocean for a similar figure.
The upshot is that he's signed up for at least four properties and committed many millions of dollars.
He apparently believes land fronting the sand at Palm Beach is heading toward prices on the Mermaid beachfront.
Tony also sees an advantage - developments of up to nine levels can be built 'as of right', something that is not possible at Mermaid.
His Mermaid forays have, with two exceptions, produced bonny financial rewards.
The first visible presence of the Smith interest in the Mermaid beachfront came in 2002.
Then in 2006 he spent some $28 million assembling a parcel of five lots in Multi-Millionaires' Row, Hedges Ave.
At the time his listed BreakFree group was travelling rather well on the ASX and he set about building his dream mansion.
Tony, once described as having the confidence that matched the former Sydney Swans player's towering frame, went on to sell BreakFree to the listed MFS.
The deal involved $40 million in cash and MFS shares but when MFS imploded in 2009, Tony was exposed to margin loans and saw $60 million go down the drain.
The unfinished house was sold for $12 million and a $500,000 hit was taken on an Albatross Ave apartment.
Tony headed to Bali to remake his fortune in the resort business and returned to Mermaid in 2012 when a beachfront home at 1 Surf St, off Hedges Ave, was snared for $7.3 million.
Ever-restless Tony then spotted a chance to buy 17-unit beachfront low-rise Mermaid Lodge, a $12 million deal was cemented, and Surf St was sold for $8.42 million.
Mermaid Lodge, at the head of Heron Ave, was bowled and the Smith mansion built - the one that last year was slipped into the portfolio of developer Dean Pask for $25 million.
Property sources say the first Smith buy at Palm Beach has involved two properties that are back to back - one overlooks the ocean on The Esplanade and the other the Gold Coast Highway.
The properties are at the northern end of Palm Beach, while his second tranche of purchases apparently is well south of that.
His initial beachfront buy at Palm Beach was at $12,000 a square metre but he's had to pay $15,000 to add to his holdings.
The ocean-lover measures his beachfront buys in terms of more than dollars.
He's calculated that since his first Mermaid deal, and with Palm Beach thrown in, he's acquired nearly 190 metres of Gold Coast beachfront land.
In Bali, where he these days runs a beach club, he's up to 170 metres.
Originally published as Former 'King of Hedges' turns to Palm Beach