Three 15-storey towers pushed for iconic Wharf site
ANGRY residents and business owners say any push to build three 15-storey high unit blocks on the Wharf carpark in Mooloolaba would be nothing short of vandalism.
Sunshine Coast deputy mayor and local councillor Chris Thompson confirmed yesterday that council had been approached by developers Evans Long but that discussions had been confidential.
Mr Thompson said it was his understanding that the developers had also approached the State Government about their plans.
He said no formal application had been received.
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The town plan restricts building height to 12-metres across the entire site including the Wharf retail precinct.
Mr Thompson said he had always envisaged a four-storey, high class resort development with a walkable water front accessible to the public that celebrated the Spit's place as the biggest producer of seafood on the eastern seaboard and as a haven for sailors.
Spit Protection Association (SPA) president Peter Foran has called on council to defend the town plan.
He described it as "nothing short of vandalism" any move to use the site for high-rise holiday or permanent accommodation.
Mr Foran said the iconic site needed a New Orleans Fisherman's Wharf-style attraction with a low-rise resort of the calibre of Sheraton Mirage or Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast.
Sunshine Coast company Evans Long is half way through a six month due diligence of the site and the Wharf retail precinct currently held under crown lease by Merlin Entertainment, operators of Underwater World Sea Life.
Mr Foran said SPA understood that Evans Long were seeking to convert the lease to freehold, something that would be done without transparency, tender or public notification.
Mr Thompson said he was very concerned at the potential for the state government to go off on a tangent in relation to other land it owned on the Spit, an area he said was well-loved and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals each year.
James Thomas, the head of Queensland Attractions for Merlin Entertainments Group, said the "drop dead date" for due diligence by Evans Long was the end of March.
"There are all sorts of issues still to be considered involving local and state government and business relationships,'' he said.
"There are plenty of stages to go through.
"Our interests relate to access, parking and that whatever happens with the Wharf site is appropriate and in keeping with our customer base."
Evans Long directors Matt Evans and Dirk Long failed to respond to calls from the Sunshine Coast Daily.
A spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps, whose department ultimately controls the crown lease, said no application has been lodged.
The Minister failed to answer questions about whether the department had been approached to freehold the land, whether that would be a public tender process and if discussion had been held about the creation of a State Government-controlled Priority Development Area over the site.