24/07/2007 - 22:00

Bunbury development boom

24/07/2007 - 22:00

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Private developers are increasing their focus on Bunbury amid a surge of development activity in the South West city.

Bunbury development boom

Private developers are increasing their focus on Bunbury amid a surge of development activity in the South West city.

A 266-pen marina, apartment towers, multi-storey offices, hotels, a shopping centre expansion, a 300-seat theatre and retirement villages are among the new projects planned during the next five years.

In the city centre, Perth-based Notebook Investments is likely to start work on Bunbury’s biggest residential apartment project to date if it receives council approval in August.

Notebook is proposing a $55 million redevelopment of the Stirling Centre site on Stephen Street, with a 12-storey residential tower of 51 apartments, a 6,000 square metre office tower and 5,000sq m of ground floor retail.

Designed by HASSELL architects, the development is expected to activate Princep Street with cafes and restaurants on the northern side of the 10,000sq m site, while a retail mall will open to the South on Stephen Street.

Project manager and Brenta Property Group director, Tony Brun, told WA Business News the developers were seeking a commitment from the state government to occupy the office building, however demand for such space in the town was sufficient for it to build without an anchor tenant.

Mr Brun said development activity in Bunbury started to pick up in the mid 1990s, and had grown significantly during the past seven years.

“The activity has really happened off the back of Alcoa at Wagerup and Worsley Alumina in Collie,” he said.

“I think there are more development projects on the cards now because investors have the capacity to deliver these projects, and Bunbury has become the centre of a fairly affluent local community.”

Mr Brun told WA Business News that, 10 years ago, locals either invested further down south or in Perth, but were now increasingly switching their focus to inner-city Bunbury.

The Stirling Centre redevelopment is likely to be the first apartment tower since the Bunbury Silos redevelopment into luxury apartments was completed in May.

The silos project also comprises a 64-room, 4.5-star Saville Hotel, which will eventually be linked to the apartment tower via an atrium.

The businessmen behind Notebook meanwhile, have an interest in the Bunbury Forum Shopping Centre on Sandridge Road, which has recently gained approval for a $28 million expansion, from 18,000sq m to 31,000sq m.

Owner Atlas Point has appointed architects Hames Sharley to design the addition, which it hopes will suit a major department store, such as Myer.

The development is expected to be completed within the next two years and will provide strong competition for the rival Bunbury Centrepoint shopping centre. 

Other action in the city centre extends to the historic Reef Hotel on Victoria Street, and plans by its owners to redevelop the site into a 14-storey apartment tower.

The hotel licence is expected to be put to good use directly across the street however, with the new licence holders proposing to build a new hotel on a 2,000sq m site.

City of Bunbury executive manager city development Geoff Klem said council had been inundated with development applications and was busy dealing with projects of its own, including a $9 million library and data centre.

Council is also proposing an $11 million expansion to the Bunbury Entertainment Centre with a new 200-seat multi-purpose theatre for smaller productions and conferences.

“Development in Bunbury is booming. When you look at the population growth, it all makes sense,” Mr Klem said.

He said Bunbury was attractive to developers and investors because it did not suffer from the ‘one industry town’ phenomena that had afflicted other regions and had a wide, sustainable economic base. 

All the more reason why state government is pushing ahead with its waterfront redevelopment, with work starting on the $45 million first stage at Koombana Bay.

The redevelopment will deliver five kilometres of new waterfront, a 266-pen marina, 13 hectares of retail and commercial activity, five-star hotel and residential development on government land along the Leschenault Inlet foreshore.

In later stages, construction work will move out to the jetty causeway and outer harbour areas, subject to relocation of port infrastructure.

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