Better times in sight for hospital traders

Raw Energy Pulse manager Justin Swayn is looking forward to business picking up as construction is completed at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
Raw Energy Pulse manager Justin Swayn is looking forward to business picking up as construction is completed at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Warren Lynam

MOMENTUM is growing for a group of Birtinya businesses as they trade back from the disappointment of opening delays at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

Owners and managers say they have not yet reached their full potential but are optimistic about their precinct's prospects.

One of their biggest problems so far has been getting noticed by the rest of the Coast.

The silence encountered while walking past the front of the new hospital about noon on a Saturday was only broken by the occasional passing car and pings of the pedestrian crossing indicators.

But it is not all bad news for nearby traders at the corner of Florey and Eccles boulevards.

Raw Energy Pulse manager Justin Swayn said his cafe had opened in April on the belief the new hospital would also be opening at the same time.

Delays to its completion have meant the expected foot traffic is yet to arrive.

The hospital is now expected to open in April next year.

"All the tradies (working at the hospital) were pretty loyal to us," Mr Swayn said.

"Every day they have kept us ticking over."

Have you been to the cafes near the new hospital at Birtinya?

He said the doctors' suites in the building above his store were filling up and technical staff seemed to be attending the private hospital more regularly.

Families and cyclists from the immediate area have helped to prop up weekend trade.

Mr Swayn said there was a sense of community between his nearby competitors.

"Since day one, we have all sort of pulled together and looked out for each other's best interests," he said.

The Coffee Club franchisees Mary Haines and her husband Larry opened their cafe in March.

"The crux of it is that hospital," Mrs Haines said.

"If they don't open in April, there will be a lot of unhappy shop owners because we are all just hanging out for it.

"We will be in competition with other business but competition is good because it drives the market."

Best Western Plus Lake Kawana Hotel general manager John Orning said the first six months after the opening in November last year had been really tough.

They had some business from the nearby private hospital but the majority of their guests were tourists just coming for the weekend.

Mr Orning said the commissioning phase of the hospital had been good so far, with specialists coming through the week.

"July, August and September have been three really good months for us," Mr Orning said.

He said it was good to know there were markets outside of the traffic generated by the hospital to rely on.

The hotel hosted its first wedding a fortnight ago.

"We are quite happy with what we have done so far," Mr Orning said.

He hoped more people would find out about businesses in the precinct as the area became busier.

"The hardest part is to tell people we are open and we exist," he said.

Topics:  birtinya business precinct sunshine coast sunshine coast university hospital

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