06/02/2008 - 22:00

$40m Augusta resort

06/02/2008 - 22:00

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The Augusta-Margaret River Shire has approved a $40 million resort development near Cape Leeuwin, which will include an abalone hatchery.

$40m Augusta resort

The Augusta-Margaret River Shire has approved a $40 million resort development near Cape Leeuwin, which will include an abalone hatchery.

Proposed for a 5.5-hectare site on the ocean side of Leeuwin Road between the cape’s lighthouse and the Augusta township, the resort will have 112 rooms, a restaurant, and will feature an interpretive centre focused on the location’s unique position at the confluence of the Indian and Southern oceans.

Augusta-Margaret River shire president Steve Harrison described the development as a boost for the town, and one of several new resort proposals that would broaden the region’s offering to tourists.

The key proponent of the venture is Augusta Marine Resources Pty Ltd, which is run by Ian Ricciardi of Hamilton Hill-based Ricciardi Seafoods & Coldstores, who dominates the share register.

According to Australian Securities and Investment Commission records, Mr Ricciardo owns around 70 per cent of AMR, while local identity Terry Adams, who founded the project more than a decade ago, has about 15 per cent. Joseph Rapattoni holds the balance.

Another company, Cottesloe-based Two Oceans Pty Ltd, which has a consortium of investors, has also played a role with the development application. Two Oceans has been involved in several other development proposals.

Lex Barnett, from Subiaco-based planning consultant Taylor Burrell Barnett, claims the proposal had been well received by the community.

“People are looking for employment opportunities for their kids,” Mr Barnett said.

He said the resort was to be a four-star development which would appeal to international visitors who are generally under-serviced in the region.

“It is targeted to capture the imagination of these people,” Mr Barnett said.

Among similar sized projects being developed in the area is a resort at Cowaramup, including a health spa in a design by architect Grounds Kent, which will cost $35 million and have 161 units, and the Gnarabup Beach Resort, with 201 villas plus facilities worth about $30 million.

Development at the Augusta site has been earmarked for about 10 years, initially with a focus on the aquaculture side of the operation.

The current project, with a greater tourism emphasis, emerged about three years ago, with the hospitality sector seen as offering a better financial model than the previous focus on export aquaculture.

The current plan envisages an abalone facility of about 4,500 square metres, compared with earlier concepts, which sought up to 20,000sqm of area.

According to shire documents, the aquaculture facility will include a hatchery, nursery and grow-out tanks for the production of abalone. It will also have a ‘cellar door’ to allow the public to observe the production process, as well as sample and purchase seafood and other produce from the region.

A laboratory facility is also proposed for use by various groups to research aquaculture techniques.

The main public facilities, and some lodgings, will be housed in one central building. Most of the accommodation will be in chalets clustered around the site, with access by footpaths serviced by electric buggies.

The restaurant is designed to take in views of the lighthouse and both oceans.

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