Comiskey Group: On Brewing a Property Empire

Like a good whisky, the Comiskey Group’s property empire improves with age.

The south-east Queensland developers and pub barons are returning to their roots to develop an indoor sporting centre and pub at Strathpine. It’s the latest in their innovative line of developments including a distillery, festival grounds, destination pubs and hotels that have all put little-known suburbs on the map.

The family began its property story more than 50 years ago with Paul and Erica Comiskey building their first development, a squash centre at Strathpine. Now sons Rob and David are also in the family business and driving the Comiskey Group’s significant program of work in the south-east corner.

The Comiskeys have an impressive footprint all over south-east Queensland with some of the biggest destination pubs on their books including Sandstone Point Hotel and the Eatons Hill Hotel that they have built from the ground up.

And they have just announced the acquisition of the site for Aura Hotel, a $35-million investment in what will be the Sunshine Coast’s largest hotel and live music venue, hedged for a 2024 opening.

But far from resting on their laurels, Rob Comiskey says they have a big pipeline of work on the cards for the next few years, including the Aura Hotel in the South Caloundra masterplanned community, a pub and festival site at south Caloundra, another pub slated for inland from Noosa opening in November, plans for a motel, pub and service station at Dakabin, which was recently approved—and they are launching their own whisky brand, Comiskey Whisky.

“There’s a bit on at the moment,” co-founder and director Rob Comiskey says.

“But the Comiskey Whisky and gin distillery is a passion project.”

Comiskey Group
▲ Brothers Rob and David joined their father Paul to launch Comiskey Group in 2004, capitalising on their well-honed skills in construction, engineering and design.

Rob is one part of the family-owned operation, with brother David and dad Paul, and the down-to-earth developers have a wide remit across pubs, shopping centres, office buildings and hotels.

Rob Comiskey says that growing up in Lawnton the family knows the region intimately, and he hopes that the addition of the Cox Architecture-designed pub and sporting centre at the entry point to Strathpine would reinvigorate the region.

“Indoor sport and recreation makes up about 80 per cent of the development, the tavern is about 10 per cent.

“With the Olympics coming up we’ve had a few groups suggesting it would be a good location for training.

“We’ve even had interest from an e-sports group, Ninja Warrior and indoor skate parks—it’s really unique and most of it’s next level.

“It’s really an entry statement for the region, 34,000 cars go past the site every day.

“The whole site floods, but we’ve done extensive flood mapping. We will build on the high side of the site towards Kremzow Road.”

Comiskey Group Property
▲ Rob Comiskey says his father, Paul, had always loved the farmland across the road from Pine Rivers Park, and they hoped its development would catalyse the renewal of the area.

Comiskey says much of the site will be rehabilitated for open green space and park.

“My dad’s always loved that block.

“But the area is a bit rundown. Strathpine has gone through a bit of a lull over the last 20 years. This can be part of that revitalisation of that whole strip that goes through Strathpine. There’s no reason why it can’t be the catalyst for the area. If I can help kickstart the renewal of the area then I’ll be happy.

“We’re hopeful we will get an approval this year and start construction in 2023.”

The proposed indoor sport centre and tavern will have a 4.5ha footrpint, while the remaining parcel of the 14.5ha site would be green space.

But delivering on the pipeline of work has been a little more challenging during the pandemic and subsequent supply-chain issues and labour shortages.

“It’s really bad and it seems to be getting worse, not better,” he says.

“We’re buying timber from eBay. That’s how bad it is to get materials right now, things that were normally a six to eight-week turnaround are now 14 weeks.”

If you can get your hands on it.

Comiskey says the family has always loved the Moreton shire and is looking for Olympic-sized opportunities across the region.

“About 90 per cent of our business is in this region,” he says.

“The Olympics will be an amazing opportunity, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are looking at what we can do to get a slice of the action in the region.”

Oyster Shed
▲ Rob Comiskey said they have had to tear down the Oyster Shed because it was too popular, to build a bigger and better offering at Sandstone Point Hotel.

The Comiskey Whisky and gin distillery is due to open at the end of this month at the Eatons Hill Hotel. Comiskey says gin school and cocktail school classes will be on offer.

They’re opening a pub “out the back of Noosa” in November, and just won approval for their Dakabin hotel with four drive-throughs and a service centre.

They are working through their Coochin Creek development plans with the Sunshine Coast Council as well as what could be Australia’s biggest dedicated festival grounds called Coochin Fields.

They are also expanding their Sandstone Point Hotel offering.

“The Oyster Shed was way too popular, so we’ve had to demolish and build an Oyster Shed Beach Club and a pool bar.”

Comiskey says it comes down to having a great team behind him and his family, who help deliver the ambitious pipeline of work.

And while it’s a 10-year runway to the Brisbane 2032 Olympics, it is almost certain the Comiskeys will be central to the region’s success story. 

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