Renewed port of call

WITH upmarket housing developments, a growing industrial area, busy major port, a blossoming business and retail district, café strip and entertainment centres, Bunbury is now much more than that town you drive through to get to Margaret River.

No longer just the gateway to the south west, the City of Bunbury is the major residential and business centre for the region.

The long-term involvement of LandCorp in the city, through its Marlston Hill residential and Kemerton industrial area projects, has been instrumental in establishing Bunbury’s image – the best of the city, located in the country.

The highly successful Marlston Hill project won the 2000 Urban Development Industry Association’s national urban renewal award.

Less than a decade ago, the land – a mix of freehold, leasehold, reserves and vacant crown land - was covered with fuel storage tanks, a waste water treatment plant and other industry.

Working with the Bunbury City Council, the South West Development Commission and local stakeholders, LandCorp cleaned up the land and made it available to the community.

The first blocks were released in early 1996 and sold for about $80,000

Several years later, comparable blocks had almost doubled in price.

Recent sales have been in excess of $220,000 and prime blocks fetched $275,000 at auction in late 1999.

“Marlston Hill has become one of the most sought-after addresses in the south west, offering a particularly special combination of location and lifestyle,” said LandCorp chief executive Ross Holt.

Mr Holt said Marlston Hill had proved a catalyst for economic and social growth in Bunbury.

“When the South West Development Commission invited LandCorp to take over the role of developer and project manager in the early 1990s, it shared its vision for Marlston Hill,” Mr Holt said.

“Today that vision is a reality, having transformed a former industrial area into a waterfront residential estate that offers a range of lifestyle options and creates a natural extension to Bunbury’s existing CBD.”

The new $4 million Marlston Waterfront Precinct is set to make the development even more popular with boardwalks and public art planned to wind between mixed commercial and residential properties.

Tourism and recreational activities will also be included in the development, which is next door to the Kareelya Property Group’s innovative Broadwater Hotel – to be built inside the Bunbury silos.

The hotel will also include about 900 square metres of office space on two levels.

More than $50 million in private sector investment is expected to be generated by the Marlston Waterfront Precinct, which will be finished by the end of June.

“By encouraging people-orientated areas full of life and energy, LandCorp developments encourage both economic and social gains,” Mr Holt said.

SWDC chief executive officer Don Punch said the Marlston Hill development had helped move the image of Bunbury from that of a country town to that of a vibrant city.

Mr Punch said that with the increase in residential development had come an increase in the amount and variety of businesses relocating to Bunbury.

“People are moving into Bunbury for the relaxed lifestyle and are setting up businesses down here,” Mr Punch said.

“There is a growing amount of con-struction, engineering and industrial businesses down here, it is also a central spot for financial services.

“There are national and international companies based here which is a good indication of how much the place has changed.”

Kemerton Industrial Park is another development soon expected to enjoy similar success to Marlston Hill.

The 2155ha park has been earmarked as an area for resource and chemical-based processing industries.

To date, a titanium dioxide plant, a silicon smelter, a chlor-alkali plant and an air separation plant have set up in the park, occupying a total of 300ha.

But with regional transport corridors set for an upgrade, this would soon fill up, according to Mr Punch.

“The Peel Deviation will link Bunbury to other regions and that is a high priority,” he said.

“And with the port there is also the potential to develop marine-associated facilities, commercial services for boats.

“There are medium term expansion plans, the port is looking at container exports.

“The port is not only very important to the region but to the State as a whole because it is the second biggest in WA.”

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