10/05/2022 - 15:54

Revisions keep jetty drawcard afloat

10/05/2022 - 15:54

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The not-for-profit behind the Busselton Jetty has rescoped the $32 million underwater observatory project after cost hikes rendered it unviable, keeping it afloat by splitting it into two stages.

Revisions keep jetty drawcard afloat
Stage one of the project has now been rescoped to meet a $26 million budget.

The not-for-profit behind the Busselton Jetty has rescoped the $32 million underwater observatory project after cost hikes rendered it unviable, keeping it afloat by splitting it into two stages.

Busselton Jetty Inc had been progressing plans to build a four-storey whale-shaped observatory, complete with an outdoor terrace, function room, an art gallery and a restaurant, as part of an expansion of the existing 17-year-old observatory.

The structure was set to be fabricated in Henderson and towed 185 kilometres to Busselton, before being installed in eight metres of water 1.7 kilometres along the 156-year-old jetty.

The plan attracted more than $13 million in federal government investment, following the promise of 200 construction jobs and an injection of more than $1 billion into the local economy.

But the plan was derailed when Henderson-based subsea solutions company Subcon Blue Solutions advised BJI’s board the project's cost had increased by more than 50 per cent, with materials costs rising 63 per cent, shipping costs up 280 per cent and the cost of labour up 40 per cent.

With the federal government’s grant due to expire in June 2023, Busselton Jetty Inc now wants to pursue the project in two stages, the first of which will involve the construction of a jetty village and service upgrades necessary to build the observatory in the future.

To progress the project, Busselton Jetty Inc has requested permission to undertake stage one, with the city recommending the council support the amended proposal and enter into a legal agreement to formalise its delivery.

Stage one of the project has now been rescoped to meet a $26 million budget, $25.2 million of which has been sourced from Lotterywest, state and federal government grants and BJI fundraising.

That stage comprises a marine interpretation zone, underwater viewing, night underwater dining, three function areas, an exhibition space, access platforms, enhanced lighting, a food and beverage village and three new marine themed electronic vehicles.

BJI has applied to Lotterywest for the remaining $800,000.

Provided the licence agreement and ministerial approval is granted this month, the project is expected to begin construction in June and be completed by May 2023.

The council is due to consider the matter at its meeting on May 11.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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