Dulcie's staying put

Dulcie Zafir has refused numerous offers to buy her Coolum beachfront property, which houses four businesses and her own home. Photo: Warren Lynam/180523
Dulcie Zafir has refused numerous offers to buy her Coolum beachfront property, which houses four businesses and her own home. Photo: Warren Lynam/180523

Dulcie Zafir has lived above the pharmacy on the Coolum esplanade for about 35 years.

And she is not moving any time soon – even though demolition of the rest of the prime beachfront block is due to start next month.

The rest of the block has been bought by the developer Watpac, and will will soon be levelled to make way for a $20 million retail and restaurant precinct that will turn Coolum’s main street into a construction site for 11 months.

Dulcie and her late husband, Andrew, Coolum’s first pharmacist, fell in love with the beachside town in the early 1970s and built the Hut Arcade, as it used to be called.

Dulcie has received many multi-million dollar offers from developers to buy the building, but the 82-year-old has no intention of selling.

“I don’t really want to leave here,” she said.

“You get attached to it and I love that beach.

“I told them at one stage I would (sell it).

“I thought ‘I’ll sell it and let them have the whole lot’ – and then I thought ‘I can’t do it’.

“After that, they gave up because whatever they offered, I doubled the price.

With a twinkle in her eye, Dulcie says the “devil” does not want her just yet.

“I think he thinks, ‘let her stay and cause trouble down here’,” she said. “They (the developers) have waited for me to die. And I won’t die. I feel sorry for them really.”

The building houses a pharmacy, a snack bar, a Thai restaurant and a hair salon. The four businesses are having trouble getting the message out to customers they are not being demolished.

Rhonda Cross, who has been operating Sorrento’s snack bar for eight years, says she gets asked about “200 times a day” when she is moving out .

Patiently, Rhonda explains she is not going anywhere.

“We’re here forever,” she said. “I’ve been in the street about 23 years; I used to have a fish and chip shop where the newsagency is now.”

Rhonda is apprehensive about whether customers, locals and tourist, will still frequent her eatery during the development of the precinct.

“We don’t know how much the noise is going to affect us and it will be pretty dirty,” she said.

“We can understand how the customers feel because we feel the same. We hope they can still find us and know that we’re all here.”

David Smith, of Hot Chilli Bean, said there had been a lot of negativity about the redevelopment and the fact most of the businesses would be closing.

“But from a positive aspect, there are still other businesses continuing to run – and popular businesses at that,” Mr Smith said.

He said it would be “business as usual” for his restaurant, which has been operating in Coolum for almost 13 years.

Mr Smith has owned it for the last two and a half years.

Chemcoast pharmacist David Innis said the demolition and redevelopment would definitely affect trade.

“It’s just a matter of how much business will be lost,” he said. “We’ve got to look towards the future so hopefully it will be for the best.”

“We’ve got to take the pain for the benefit of the community.”

Watpac has committed to having the precinct open in time for next Christmas.

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