Developer on board for Yorkeys Knob resort as Aquis and State sign off on super resort deal and set timeline to make it happen.
SOURCE: The Weekend Post 19 September 2015
Australia’s largest tourism development – the $8.15 billion Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort at Yorkeys Knob – is back on track.
Hong Kong developer Tony Fung has signed a Process Deed with State Treasurer Curtis Pitt to re-enter the Integrated Resort Development (IRD) Process.
He withdrew from the IRD process in February following stalled negotiations with the previous LNP Government.
In other moves:
– State Government officials and the Aquis development team will meet in about two weeks to finalise an IRD deadline timetable.
– Detailed design and planning of the mega-resort should begin next year.
– Construction most likely to start 2017
– The first stage will be $3.5 billion, involving one casino, five hotels of 4000 rooms, an artificial lake and island, retail shopping, an aquarium, a theatre, a reef lagoon, an 18-hole golf course, a convention and exhibition centre and a cultural heritage centre.
Treasurer Pitt, who signed the deed (REFER BELOW), said he welcomed Mr Fung’s renewed commitment as “a vote of confidence in Queensland”.
“Following the election, the Palaszczuk Government sought to engage in positive discussions with Mr Fung and we welcome his company’s commitment to re-entering the IRD process,” he said.
“The IRD process is a rigorous way to protect the community’s interests and also evaluate Aquis’s credentials and financial capacity to deliver the project.”
Mr Fung said Aquis was looking forward to working with the Government.
“We remain committed to the Aquis Yorkeys Knob project as part of our overall strategic investment plans for Australia,” he said.
Mr Pitt said the deal was timely after leading a two-week international trade and investment roadshow in Asia, the UK and the US.
“International investors consistently told me they were aware of the fact that Queensland is forecast to have the strongest economic growth of any state in Australia and that they’re interested in opportunities here,” he said.
Aquis project director Pat Flanagan said both parties were pleased to be back in the process.
“There were smiles all around. Everyone is happy,” he said.
Mr Flanagan said that in the next two weeks the Aquis development team would sit down with government officials to finalise a timetable to meet criteria deadlines.
He said it was expected Aquis would start construction before Echo’s Queen Wharf project in Brisbane, not scheduled until 2018.
Mr Flanagan said he believed with three casino projects now under way in Queensland – including the AFS casino proposal on the Gold Coast – the path to the end would be smoother.
“It is clearly evident that three projects are running in parallel and not in competition.” he said.
Mr Flanagan said Aquis was opening a new market at a well known leisure destination while the Echo project was proposed for an existing market in a state capital city.
The first stage is estimated to involve 3750 construction jobs and 11,000 operational roles. The second stage will require 3500 construction workers and provide 9000 jobs.
Cairns mayor warns more delays could kill Aquis mega casino
The Cairns Post September 21 2015
CAIRNS’ mayor has warned there is still a long way to go before Aquis becomes a reality and any more delays could kill the multi-billion-dollar project.
The Queensland Government has announced the team behind the $8 billion project at Yorkeys Knob had signed an agreement to re-enter the government’s integrated resort development (IRD) process.
This means the government will ask Aquis for a detailed proposal in the near future. The company will then have 20 days to accept the document and execute an acceptance deed, which will start the probity process.
Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung’s proposed development, which is slated to open in 2020, had stalled due to a clash with state regulators over the probity investigation and ongoing questions about potential investors.
Mayor Bob Manning was relieved the project appeared back on track, but said the government still needed to push it to a conclusion.
“Things seem to be heading in the right direction. But that’s today,” he said.
“Tomorrow and the day after, it must be kept on track.”
Cr Manning said Aquis could be the largest contributor to the region’s economic growth, and blamed the former and current State Governments for letting the approval process drag dangerously on.
“Time eventually kills everything, and time will kill a deal,” he said.
Advance Cairns chief executive Mark Matthews said the signing of the process deed and the start of the probity process was proof of the commitment that all sides had to the success of the project. “We urge Aquis to accelerate work to see this project start as early as possible,’’ he said.
Aquis Aware Coalition of Concerned Citizens spokesman Denis Walls said Mr Fung’s re-engaging with the IRD process was “another attempt to delude the people of Cairns” he was serious about the development.
“All that has happened is that we are back to where we were a year ago, only with an additional procedure for him to comply with,’’ he said.
“There are now going to be two probity processes running in tandem: one through the IRD and another still going on through the Department of State Development and the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.”
■ In The Weekend Post, it incorrectly stated that State Treasurer Curtis Pitt signed the process deed with Hong Kong developer Tony Fung.
Mr Pitt met Mr Fung and other Aquis representatives before he was taken to a separate room and signed the documents with a State Develop-ment Department official. The documents were taken from State Parliament and lodged at the department’s offices.
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Jason Thomson | Finance Broker and Mortgage Adviser | Smartline Cairns