IT IS difficult not to marvel at the statistics behind the rapid growth of the Western Corridor of Ipswich.
The Ipswich population is now well past 200,000 and that growth has accelerated in the past 18 months, with 10,000 new residents settling in the area, according to figures from the City of Ipswich.
Ipswich's population now grows at more than twice the national average of 1.4%.
What is remarkable has been the capacity for the Western Corridor to facilitate this growth.
There are two reasons for this.
One is that the region has the space to accommodate it and, secondly, it is affordable, particularly for first-home buyers who are increasingly being pushed out of the Brisbane market.
This trend is unlikely to slip in the near future as the property cycle puts more pressure on Brisbane home prices.
And as the population expands into areas such as Ecco Ripley, the growth of essential infrastructure such as business and community facilities must follow.
Race Property is the specialised retail shopping centre leasing service for Ripley Town Centre, with its most recent success being The Quay Family Healthcare medical centre which acquired a 1,740sqm tenancy at the $1.5 billion Ripley Town Centre.
When completed, the Town Centre will ultimately comprise a broad range of commercial and retail spaces, the medical precinct, regional transit hub, community, entertainment and dining facilities as well as a residential component.
Race Property creates a single point of contact for retail business at Ripley Town Centre, offering leasing, sales, development and asset management.
It covers all sectors of the retail market to provide the best solutions for buyers, sellers, owners or leasee of retail property.
With 30 years in the industry, director Graeme Wakefield runs the company with daughters Meagan and Eliza, plus a staff of up to 50 members.
"Primarily, we are retail shopping centre specialists. Business is more challenging than recent years but the Western Corridor continues to provide growth.
"I am very proud of the work we do at Ripley Town Centre.
"The recent addition of The Quay Family Healthcare medical centre is particularly pleasing; it will be a fabulous addition,” Graeme said.
"We know the market inside out. Without Race Property, it would have been hard to imagine The Quay Family Healthcare coming here.”
Graeme said retail tenants obviously relied on consumers to visit shopping centres for turnover and income and with that came the responsibility for his company to ensure the retail mix was just right.
"You need to be aware of the market and consider how tenants may perform.
"In a lot of cases, retail tenants in the current environment have more than one business operating,” Graeme said.
The current state of the retail leasing market has changed in the past five years.
"Business is never easy.
"We need to be confident that retail tenants have a good management structure, so they will be successful and help the centre trade well.
"If the product, such as the shopping centre, is good, then there will be definite interest.”
City of Ipswich forecasts the Ripley Valley region to grow to 120,000 people in the next 20 years.
Land prices in Ecco Ripley alone, rose 11% over the two years to the end of the 2016 financial year, according to PriceFinder and The National Property Research Co.
Graeme said he could not foresee an end to the growth in the next few years.
"For obvious reasons like the room to expand, the western areas are definite hotspots, along with the northern Gold Coast. The growth in residential areas obviously are the hotspots.
"But I think it is hard to pinpoint what will provide the best value over the next financial year,” he said.
"This is a very difficult question.
"Every business is different and what offers value to one business will not do so to others.
"I think identifying the best value in the region is about looking at the untapped opportunities that lie in the future and working on the growth of an area; this is what Ripley provides, potential.”
He said the benefits of contacting a specialist such as Race Property rather than conducting one's own affair concerning retail tenancy were obvious.
"We are constantly talking to all the retailers who are active in the marketplace.
"We have a network of 50 to 60 properties and a large database of tenants,” he said.
"Because of the size of our business and the number of the centres that we manage and operate, we are able to offer a wider variety for tenants to look at.
"We are contacted constantly for opportunities.”
Ripley Town Centre is the latest chapter in the exciting growth story of the Ripley Valley region and Western Corridor. It's a story that has only just begun and one in which Race Property continues to play a major part.