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A Queensland businessman has paid almost $17 million for the super penthouse at the Juniper Group's Soul Surfers Paradise development, beating the Australian-record price set only last month by the sale of Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond's Sydney digs.

"These sales show the top end of the residential property market is really thriving, contrary to reports of a softening in the broader market," said Juniper marketing manager David Kortlang. "From our perspective we've experienced very strong demand for Soul Surfers Paradise with more than half the apartments in the development now sold."

The super penthouse sale follows the sale in August of a 425 sqm apartment on Soul's sixty-eighth level for $7.8 million, the Gold Coast's equal top price until today.

The $16.85 million unconditional sale for the off-the-plan apartment in the 77-storey Soul Surfers Paradise tower on the Gold Coast eclipses the previous high-water mark for units set when Mr Symond sold his fifth-floor, 660 sqm apartment on Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, for $16.5 million.

Prior to that, radio broadcaster John Laws and Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe were the owners of Australia's priciest apartments when they bought in Sydney's Woolloomooloo Wharf. Laws and his wife Caroline paid $15 million for their unit in 2005 while Crowe and his wife Danielle shelled out $14.3 million for an upstairs unit in 2003.

Mr Kortlang said the Soul Surfers Paradise super penthouse purchase reflects Surfers Paradise's status as one of the world's great international addresses for luxury living.

"I believe we can truly say now that Queensland and Surfers Paradise have reached the upper echelon in the prestige market and can sit alongside the likes of Malibu, New York and the Sydney waterfront in terms of price and desirability," Mr Kortlang said.

Construction of Soul Surfers Paradise is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2007. Preliminary site work is planned for December. Juniper has already secured unconditional sales for 150 apartments, worth $300 million.

For the money, the unnamed buyer will enjoy 987 sq m of luxury spread over four living levels plus a 160 sq m rooftop recreation deck with swimming pools. Sitting more than 220 metres above the beach, the super penthouse offers 360 degree sweeping ocean views stretching across the Broadwater and to the hinterland, Coolangatta and beyond.

The exclusive residence will be custom designed to the buyer's specifications down to the number of bedrooms and formal and informal living areas. It is expected to set a new standard in luxury living for the Gold Coast.

The Soul Surfers Paradise penthouse sale catapults Queensland into the top end of property sales alongside Sydney, where a reported 14 sales have broken the $10 million mark so far this year.

The $850 million Soul Surfers Paradise is a showpiece property of the privately owned Juniper Group – a fully integrated development and hotel and resort management company.  The award-winning group boasts more than $2 billion worth of projects and strategic landholdings currently under development or scheduled for future construction in key coastal tourist precincts on the eastern seaboard, including the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and North Queensland.

Juniper also has a $200 million portfolio of blue-chip retail and commercial properties in Queensland's most sought-after beachfront locations.