Legal spat spikes rebirth of Coast tourism icon
A souring relationship between the owners of the Big Pineapple has put a $150 million redevelopment in doubt.
Peter Kendall and Brad Rankin are locked in an ongoing legal dispute, causing delays to the project to return the Coast's original icon back to its glory days.
The State Government has pulled a $2.5 million grant promised for the project and concerns remain around its future funding.
In 2017 the owners floated a plan to expand existing facilities, build a water park, a new 120-room resort hotel, glamping tents and a food hub.
Email exchanges between the owners from December last year, revealed in court documents, showed a business relationship in decline.
Mr Kendall and Mr Rankin disagreed on how much development and project manager Jim Costello should be paid as part of a services agreement.
Over the past five years Mr Costello has been involved in the project he worked to get development approvals and state government grants.
Mr Kendall raised concern that he believed Mr Rankin was pushing for Mr Costello's construction company, JAM Constructions Pty Ltd, to be awarded the building contract.
However it is understood JAM Constructions withdrew its tender for the work prior to two other building companies being awarded it.
"You have a lot of explaining to do as I do not like being played a fool," Mr Kendall wrote in the email to Mr Rankin.
"I expect Jim owes you a heap of money you've MEZ (mezzanine funding) funded him on other projects and it's in your interest to prop him up.
Mr Rankin forwarded the email to lawyers, the project's marketing and public relations teams, the National Australia Bank - who they were hoping to secure a $3 million loan from - and others involved, and told them to stop work until they resolved how much Mr Costello be paid.
Mr Kendall said Mr Rankin's email was in breach of the property agreement.
In response Mr Rankin legally challenged the breach.
On Wednesday Supreme Court Judge Peter Davis dismissed Mr Rankin's appeal.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said "regrettably" the contract with Big Pineapple lapsed because "the owners were unable to meet obligations".
"The government has left the door open to working again … when they are in a position to continue the project at a later date," Mr Hinchliffe said.
A company spokesman said while the owners worked out "the future of their partnership" it was business as usual for tenants and the tourist attraction.
He said Mr Kendall and Mr Rankin achieved a great deal since taking over ownership of the closed, run-down facility in 2011.
"They reopened the site to the public while investing in many repairs, including refurbishment of the iconic Big Pineapple structure," he said.
He said the Sunshine Coast Council-approved master plan for the 169ha plot near Nambour Connection Rd positioned the area for future success.