Ho­tel ap­proved for heart of Air­lie Beach

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

FOR­GET the Heart­break Ho­tel, by the end of the year, Air­lie Beach may have its very own ‘Heart’ or ‘Heart of the Reef’ ho­tel.

While the name has yet to be de­cided, the devel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion for the site of the for­mer su­per­mar­ket in the mid­dle of the Air­lie Beach main street has now been ap­proved.

Whit­sun­day mayor Jen­nifer Whit- ney said the devel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion in­cluded 33 ac­com­mo­da­tion units, a café or restau­rant, gen­eral re­tail and a lounge bar over three lev­els.

She said the pro­posed devel­op­ment was de­signed to look over the ocean “and will take ad­van­tage of the unique lo­ca­tion on Air­lie Beach main street”.

“[And] it is en­cour­ag­ing that there are new de­vel­op­ments be­ing pro- posed for the main street, fol­low­ing the re­fur­bish­ment of the area by Coun­cil in the last few years,” she said.

The build­ing in ques­tion is owned by Des Davey and has been the sub­ject of a num­ber of dif­fer­ent devel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions and even con­tro­versy over the past 18 years.

The site was once ear­marked for in­cor­po­ra­tion into the FKP Out­rig­ger project and prior to the main street up­grade there was talk it would be bought to al­low for a bend in the road.

Fast for­ward to to­day and none of this has oc­curred, with Mr Davey now forced to make a de­ci­sion about a flood-prone build­ing that’s dif­fi­cult to rent. The choice he has made is to re­de­velop and to do it now be­fore the ‘boom times’ start.

“I’m pretty ex­cited for Air­lie Beach next year,” he said.

“The tip of the ice­berg is just ap­pear­ing so I see this as a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity.” Gary Hunt, the ar­chi­tect em­ployed in the up­grade of the Air­lie Beach main street, will also be re­spon­si­ble for this build­ing’s new look. Mr Hunt said the in­ten­tion was to cap­ture a “clas­sic Queens­land ver­nac­u­lar feel”, characterised by pitched roofs with ex­ten­sive bal­conies on all lev­els.

“[And] peo­ple walk­ing along the street will feel con­nected with the coastal vista via walk­ways and sight-lines through to the sea from the foot­path,” he said.

Mr Hunt said the build­ing would be raised to the ap­pro­pri­ate level for avoid­ing fu­ture floods, as per Coun­cil re­quire­ments.

Mr Davey added it con­formed to the cur­rent foot­print and met height re­stric­tions.

“I’m go­ing to re­de­velop in ac­cor­dance with the town plan like ev­ery­one else can – we’re not spe­cial and there’s no dis­pen­sa­tion for any­thing,” he said. “I think we’ll be build­ing a re­ally, re­ally nice build­ing and it might be the cat­a­lyst – it might just trig­ger a run of devel­op­ment that Air­lie could use over the next five years.”

Mr Davey hopes to start a short-lived de­mo­li­tion process fol­lowed by con­struc­tion in May.

He is aim­ing to have the ma­jor­ity of con­struc­tion fin­ished by Christ­mas and is in ne­go­ti­a­tions with lo­cal builders, trades­peo­ple and even hote­liers about man­ag­ing the fin­ished site.

“If we can keep ev­ery­thing lo­cal I’ll be re­ally happy about that,” he said.

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