Two revitalisation projects not only promise to develop new tourism precincts, but will also bring beachfront apartment living to the regions.
Major opportunities are beginning to emerge for developers and construction companies in the south of the state, with transformative projects in Bunbury and Albany promising to deliver hundreds of beachfront apartments alongside hotels and new tourism precincts.
Work has begun on the first two stages of the biggest development in Bunbury’s history, the Transforming Bunbury’s Waterfront project, which has attracted more than $45 million in state government funding.
The early stage of works includes the $12.3 million redevelopment of the popular Dolphin Discovery Centre, and is designed to deliver the framework needed to establish a world-class tourism precinct at Koombana Bay, which is also subject to revitalisation works.
LandCorp is also facilitating medium-density development at Koombana Bay, with a structure plan calling for the construction of five buildings of between four and six storeys, in order to offer a mix of apartment living or short-stay accommodation, with a hospitality precinct to be developed on the ground floor.
Forward works for the new Dolphin Discovery Centre were completed in late June, while announcement of the successful tenderer for the main construction works expected is shortly.
However, it is the third stage of Transforming Bunbury’s Waterfront that is the big game-changer, comprising a 450-pen marina complete with launching and stacking facilities, and a marine services precinct, as well as apartment developments of up to 12 storeys around Casuarina Harbour.
South West Development Commission assistant director of infrastructure, Ashley Clements, said the project was part of an ongoing strategy to turn underutilised spaces into real destinations, and give tourists a reason to stop in Bunbury on their way to other locations in the South West.
“That commenced with the Marlston Hill project in the 1990s and this really is the next big thing after Marston Hill in terms of changing the perceptions of Bunbury internally and externally, and it really will transform the city into a true waterfront destination,” Mr Clements told Business News.
“Once we have people there they will be able to see the amazing waterfront we have, which will encourage them to stay in Bunbury longer and explore the city.”
Mr Clements said the vision for the Casuarina Harbour precinct had been developed in close consultation with Bunbury locals.
“We gave the community a potential vision of what it might look like in the future, in terms of the level and the density of the development and what it ultimately could be,” Mr Clements said.
“There was glowing community endorsement for that vision. The community was very supportive of things like the building heights we have proposed, which were fairly substantial – up to 15 storeys.
“But this is just what it could look like, this doesn’t reflect commercial demand for construction in Bunbury at the moment, but it creates a vision of what it could look like in the future when it’s fully developed.”
Mr Clements said the marina component of the development would be particularly crucial for Bunbury, in terms of developing a marine services employment node.
He said the precinct would be a welcome relief for many boat owners in Bunbury, who currently had to take their craft to other harbours for maintenance.
Mr Clements said the South West Development Commission would begin engaging with developers over the next 12 months, with development of the apartment buildings subject to private sector investment.
Meanwhile, in Albany, roadworks will begin in coming weeks to facilitate the development of the Middleton Beach Activity Centre, which will include a new hotel and up to 295 apartments.
Developing a large-scale tourism precinct at Middleton Beach has been in the planning process for more than a decade.
However, a $70 million plan to develop a major hotel, village square and function centre was shelved by the offshore owners of the land during the GFC.
The state government bought the former Esplanade Hotel site at Middleton Beach from Singapore’s CS partners for $7 million in 2014, using Royalties for Regions funds to take control of the prime beachfront development site, which has been vacant since the hotel was demolished in 2007.
LandCorp and the City of Albany are working on design guidelines for Middleton Beach, but early concept plans call for a 12-storey hotel to anchor a mix of residential, tourism and hospitality developments.
Lands Minister Rita Saffioti said late last month that the design guidelines, as well as a foreshore management plan, would be released for public comment later this year.