THE Douglas Shire Council’s decision to grant conditional approval for the $85 million Reef Marina waterfront transformation has paved the way for future investment in the shire.
Described by Mayor Julia Leu as “a historic moment and one which is timely”, this is the most significant development in the shire since the 1980s when the flamboyant and later fugitive Christopher Skase emerged on the scene and built the Sheraton Mirage which transformed the Far North Queensland tourism industry.
“Council’s development approval not only ensures public access to our Waterfront is maintained and enhanced, but also gives confidence to other local businesses that they can invest in the Douglas Shire and work with Council to achieve a positive outcome that benefits investors and our communities.
“The redevelopment of The Reef Marina will also, not only revitalise the Port Douglas Waterfront, but provide significant opportunities for local tradesmen and businesses to become involved in the redevelopment which will transform our marina into a world-class facility deserving of its magnificent location,” said Mayor Leu.
Co-owner of the Reef Marina, Andrew Hooper-Nguyen, said work would be carried out in stages with the southern section of The Boardwalk, The Rainforest and 19 of the 85 luxury waterfront townhouses and apartments, to be completed first.
“The development is expected to generate employment for about 320 people and create a further 300 indirect jobs during the construction period.
“In addition to boosting employment in the shire by about 5.8 per cent, Gross Regional Product is forecast to increase by 4.4 per cent. The project’s contribution over 30 years is calculated to have a nett present value of $588 million (Cummings Economics),” he said.
Hooper-Nguyen said there is now a great deal of work that needs to be done and he suspects there’ll be no physical activity until sometime in 2018.
“This project is one of the largest investments ever planned in Port Douglas. There are literally thousands of tasks to complete – including detailed engineering design, environmental, traffic, flooding and other studies, and further regulatory approvals – before the real work can commence on site.
“We have a big project team in place and we will push forward as fast as we can. We are also confident that we can work with Council and other stakeholders to satisfy the conditions. Friday’s decision is a significant step in the right direction and we are happy with the result,” he said.
The conditional approval received unanimous support from the mayor and the three councillors, David Carey, Michael Kerr and Roy Zammataro, who were present at the meeting. Absentee councillor Abigail Noli’s voice of support was noted.
The councillors agreed this is an exciting time for the shire; the project is long overdue; the “tired” marina needs an overhaul and it’s encouraging the fishing industry will be sustained.