$100 million development ahead as The Wharf changes hands
THE Mooloolaba Wharf has changed hands and new owners Evans Long are now devising a strategy for the site's "regeneration".
The development firm took over the site from entertainment giant Merlin six weeks ago after an "arduous" two-year process, director Dirk Long said.
"We're just starting to look at a strategy for a mixed use development, which would be a mix of commercial, residential, retail and tourism, but really focusing on tourism as well," Mr Long said.
The pair were "excited" about the coming consultation and planning phase.
"It's such an important part of Mooloolaba - both currently and in its future," Mr Long said. He said the site was past its "use-by date", was "dilapidated" and needed regeneration.
"It needs to be a focal point for the Sunshine Coast as a whole and also Mooloolaba," he said.
Mr Evans confirmed that all existing buildings would be demolished for the redevelopment, from Hogs Breath Café to the eastern boundary of The Wharf Tavern and north to Parkyn Parade.
The Wharf Tavern building was subject to a longer term lease, but Evans Long was working with the establishment to see whether they would move this forward.
"It's early days...they may end up staying, in a format, there," Mr Evans said.
While proposals for high-rise developments at the site had been the subject of controversy in the past, Mooloolaba Business and Tourism chair Peter Foran said he would welcome any development proposal from Evans Long that was within the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme.
Asked whether the proposal being developed for the site would stick to the planning scheme, Mr Evans said it was too early to say. The focus would be on supporting shop owners, who had had "nothing spent on the place for years", he said.
"We're looking to...drive the usage of the Wharf up - particularly by the Sunshine Coast locals. A lot of people don't see the need to come down here anymore…we want to get them back here."
How do you feel about plans to "regenerate" The Wharf?
This poll ended on 25 April 2016.
It's great. The Wharf has needed this for a long time.
I think it's fine the way it is.
Something needs to be done but I hope they don't change the character too much.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Tourism was a "bonus" for retailers, he said, but getting a stable trade for 52 weeks of the year was the developers' main game, he said.
Asked whether heritage protection would limit redevelopment options, Mr Evans said previous owners Merlin Entertainments had spoken about protecting the tower at the Hog's Breath Cafe end of the complex, but this idea had fallen to the wayside.
"It's more of an eyesore, to be honest," he said.
The redevelopment would be cost "upwards of $100 million", Mr Evans estimated, while emphasising that the true cost could not be meaningfully guessed at until plans were at a later stage.
The directors were buoyed by the support of tenants including Sunreef, which recently signed a three-year lease and had recently invested $250,000 in a store fit-out and equipment. The local business brings 14,000 visitors to the site each year, and was an important part of the site, Mr Long said.