Christopher Skase's Big Top sail has had its day in sun
IT WAS the year Crocodile Dundee hit the big screen, Bob Hawke was prime minister and Christopher Skase's company unveiled a revolutionary shopping centre in the heart of Maroochydore.
The Big Top, with the largest shade sail in the southern hemisphere, opened in August, 1986.
And yesterday this iconic shade sail was ripped down in a matter of hours as the Reed Property Group began the next stage of the $20 million redevelopment of the 3ha site.
The 4500sq m of fabric won't be gone long, though, with Reed Property planning to have new sails back up again within six to eight weeks.
Original architect David Oliver was on hand to watch his sails fall quickly to the ground yesterday.
His design took the Butts Shopping Centre precinct and transformed it into a pedestrian mall with shops, offices off Ocean St, a new Franklins supermarket and parking for 600 cars.
Keeping it all linked and dry throughout the rainy season was the huge translucent, tensioned-membrane roof.
In the first few years, until Skase went bankrupt and skipped the country to Majorca in Spain, the Big Top really flourished.
Mr Oliver, who still has offices on the Coast, has watched his vision deteriorate from a vibrant shopping mall into a degraded, largely empty building with various owners letting it decay.
He was delighted when Reed Property scrapped its plan to bulldoze the site and transform it into 20-storey residential towers, instead planning a revitalisation of the original concept with a twist.
What do you think about the Big Top's $20 million facelift?
This poll ended on 07 August 2014.
It's about time the old shade sails were pulled down.
I think it's great they're retaining the look and putting up new sails.
I think they should scrap the shade sails completely.
I miss the shade sails already.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
It aims to host a farmers' market alongside a supermarket and speciality stores.
"I'm pleased Reed Property Group is keeping the integrity of the original site and structure and tailoring it to a 21st century retail environment," Mr Oliver said.
Reed Property development director Ross Webb said already 75% of Big Top Market Fresh's floor space was under offer.
Award-winning farmers' market operator and Restaurant Australia ambassador Shane Stanley will operate the markets.
The opening date for the market has been postponed from the end of this year to Easter next year.
September, 1971: Local entrepreneurs Harry Atkin, Cliff Butt and Carl Radke approach the Sunshine Coast Council to open the region's first drive-in supermarket and shopping complex on the Big Top site.
May 17, 1973: the Maroochydore drive-in supermarket opens, becoming one of the biggest retail complexes outside Brisbane.
June, 1985: Christopher Skase's Qintex Group presents the Maroochy Shire Coucnil with plans for a $5 million redevelopment of the Butts Shopping Centre. May, 1986: Two of the four "big top"roofs are assembled in the new-look shopping precinct. The four PVC-coated polyester roofs reach a height of 18 metres at the apex. It comprises 6000sq m of fabric with the strength, when new, to support 4500 people.
August 1, 1986: a revitalised Big Top is officially opened by the Honourable Mike Ahern.
1989: An application for a $6 million amusement park on the rooftop car park, including a rollercoaster and ferris wheel, is refused by the council after public objection.
!989: Months later, the Big Top is placed into receivership. Skase falls out with the Qintex board and eventually falls into $700 million in debt.
1991: Skase flees to Marjorca, Spain, were he dies in 2001.
1992: Brisbane-based Taiwanese family company, Yu Feng, buys the centre and relaunches it with Franklins Big Fresh two years later.
2001: Woolworths buys Franklins and moves into the Big Top.
2003: Reed Property Group buys the site with plans for its "metro" vision: three, 20-storey residential towers.
2007: Lehman Brothers acquires a 40% stake in the site.
September, 2008: Lehman's, a 160-year-old New York finanical services firm, collapses.
March, 2013: Reed Property Group announces plans for a $20 million redevelopment of Big Top to include a hybrid market covering 10,000sq m of shopping space, including Woolies and more than 100 local fresh food stalls on designated market days.