$4.2b mega-resort in QLD one step closer

Tony Fung wants to build a 330 hectare resort and casino on the site

Chinese billionaire Tony Fung is one step closer to building a glitzy $4.2 billion mega-resort and casino in far north Queensland.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has confirmed the first stage of plans to build Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort has been approved.

It must now pass environmental, social and economic approval processes. The Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort will be overseen by the coordinator-general’s office.

Mr Fung wants to build a 330 hectare resort and casino on the site, comprising:

• nine luxury hotels with 3750 rooms
• one of the world’s largest casinos
• 1180 managed apartments and 130 managed villas
• a sports stadium
• one of the world’s largest aquariums
• 13,500 of retail shopping area
• a 20-hectare reef lagoon
• a 45,000 sqm convention and exhibition centre
• an 18-hole championship golf course

In a letter to the Cairns community, Mr Fung said his company acquired an option for the 750 hectare site at Yorkey’s Knob north of Cairns in September 2012.

“With over 15 years’ experience investing in north Queensland I have recognised the unique suitability of the Cairns region to develop an integrated resort, based upon the Macau model, but presented differently via a design and marketing linkage to north Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Fung wrote.

The Macau model is a type of integrated resort development that is being developed in the Asia Pacific region, according to Mr Fung.

“Queensland has an opportunity with this proposal to join other countries in our region that are developing large-scale integrated resorts which drive local tourism, employment and associated economic growth,” Mr Fung wrote.

In his submission to the state government, Mr Fung said the resort would rival great man-made structures seen in Dubai and Singapore.

Queensland Deputy Premier Mr Seeney told local radio station 4CA in early August that the proposal was good news for north Queensland.

“It’s great news investors such as this are investing in north Queensland,” he said. “It’s certainly very early days and the start of a long approval process.”

Mr Fung has touted several benefits of the development, including a boost in the number of Chinese visitors to Queensland to help its tourism economy.

“Aquis gives Queensland an opportunity to fend off its southern and regional competitors for the increasingly important Chinese tourism market,” he wrote.

Mr Fung said the project is still a work in progress, working in consultation with the Queensland government, local authorities, the community and other stakeholders.

If the project receives approval, significant site works could commence mid-2014.

Mr Fung is seeking an agreement from the Queensland government for the development by the end of November this year. The project is slated for a 2018 completion if it goes ahead.

In other development news, Lend Lease and Places Victoria have executed a development agreement for land at the Batman’s Hill redevelopment site in Melbourne’s Docklands.

The agreement covers three parcels of land comprising around 2.5 hectares and will be developed over 10 years in a project worth an estimated $1.6 billion.

The proposed development will include 100,000sqm of net lettable office space, retail and around 600 apartments.

“The execution of a development agreement reflects our strong capabilities in mixed-use inner-urban development and the success we have demonstrated at Victoria Harbour in collaboration with Places Victoria,” Steve McCann, Lend Lease Group’s chief executive officer and managing director.

“The project leverages our integrated model, including development, construction and funds management and further builds on our Victorian commercial office and residential backlog.”