EX­CLU­SIVE: Dar­win de­vel­oper un­veils $250 mil­lion vi­sion for Es­planade


A DAR­WIN de­vel­oper wants to trans­form the Es­planade into a $250 mil­lion zoo, the NT News can re­veal.

Long-time de­vel­oper Ge­orge Mi­latos has devel­oped con­cept plans, draw­ings and a video to show off “Lar­rakia Zoo and Theme Park.”

He has flagged his “idea” with Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis and the De­part­ment of Busi­ness.

The Es­planade be­longs to the Dar­win Coun­cil.

The num­ber of an­i­mals would be about 60 and would come from ex­ist­ing op­er­a­tors like Croc Cove, Crocody­lus Park and the Ter­ri­tory Wildlife Park.

“We have the most mag­nif­i­cent har­bour and city land­scape and we have to cap­i­talise on its unique­ness and di­ver­sity,” Mr Mi­latos said.

“This idea has a bold unique wow fac­tor and it ticks a lot of boxes.

“It will grow value and raise the pro­file of Dar­win as a tourist in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion.

“It will im­prove lo­cal vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence. It will show­case cul­tural di­ver­sity. It will en­cour­age re­tail­ers, com­mu­nity groups, the arts and cul­tural sec­tor to en­liven Dar­win. and it cre­ates more green space and veg­e­ta­tion canopies and wa­ter fea­tures.”

Mr Mi­latos said no trees on The Es­planade would be re­moved and any con­struc­tion would not ex­ceed tree height.

“There are ob­vi­ous sen­si­tiv­i­ties associated with a project like this but I be­lieve we can work through them,” he said.

The zoo will be bro­ken into six sec­tions hous­ing the best Aus­tralian na­tive an­i­mals; the best Asian an­i­mals; the best African an­i­mals; a bird aviary; un­der­wa­ter ob­ser­va­tion tun­nel and a trop­i­cal rain­for­est. Old fuel tanks would be turned into 3D the­atres, restau­rants and cafes.

A mono­rail con­nect­ing the Wa­ter­front and the zoo which

also trav­els to the Botanic Gar­dens is part of the plan.

Croc Cove owner and Tourism NT board mem­ber Mick Burns said the NT has to con­tinue to de­velop prod­uct to re­move the ob­sta­cle of sea­son­al­ity. “Tourism sea­son­al­ity is the big­gest ob­sta­cle,’” he said. “We need new prod­uct — some man made, some nat­u­ral, some around ac­cess.

“This is a new prod­uct and it is in­no­va­tive but I’m not sure if it is right or if the com­mu­nity will want the gov­ern­ment spend­ing money on this type of as­set.”

Crocody­lus Park owner Gra­hame Webb said any zoo would have to be sub­sidised.

“The wildlife park re­ceives around $6 mil­lion now and there would be com­plex­i­ties with an­i­mal habi­tats,” he said. “But the big­gest is­sue we have to ad­dress is the cost of ac­tu­ally get­ting to the NT.”


An artis­tic im­pres­sion of The Es­planade un­der the plan

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