Hotel approved for heart of Airlie Beach
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.