Developers back ‘ catalytic‘ riverfront vision for Mackay
EXCLUSIVE: MACKAY'S "catalytic" waterfront vision has been given the tick of approval from eager developers.
Mackay Regional Council opened expressions of interest for six council-owned freehold sites in the Waterfront Priority Development Area.
The council call-out asked private investors to pitch their plans to reinvigorate the inner-city precinct, with hopes for applications for craft breweries, cafes and restaurants, health centres, tourist attractions and accommodation.
The development proposals closed in August and Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said the council was still working through the many proposals.
Cr Williamson remained tight-lipped over the number of applications received, and thee type of businesses battling for the land because of commercial restrictions.
"We did this with our heart in our mouths because we didn't know what developers saw in Mackay," Cr Williamson.
"(But) we are very excited by the number of EOIs we have received.
"There will be more than enough for us to work with."
Cr Williamson said there was a "good balance" of applications for commercial, residential, tourism and accommodation developments.
And he said there was a fairly equal amount of interest from developers across all six sites.
"Our aim was to be catalytic," he said.
But as ambitious as the council's waterfront plan was, Cr Williamson said "we can't do this without investors".
"We know how we want it to look, but when we have private enterprise in the mix that changes.
"They all want to tweak it differently."
Cr Williamson said the expressions of interest were not binding on the council and a report would be presented in October.
"We want the best for Mackay and the best for the investors who come with us and the best for the land," he said.
Mackay City and Waterfront project manager Kylie Rogers said a mix of Mackay region businesses and developers from across Australia had sent in their vision for the waterfront.
Cr Williamson said this was the first stage of commercial developments in the 10-year PDA plan, which would extend across to the East Mackay waterfront.
Cr Williamson said the initial focus on the riverfront was a strategic decision.
"We need to connect our community back to the river," he said.
"We need to revitalise the CBD and we need to capitalise on some of the land council owns."
"Our leverage has been out on the riverfront and the CBD."
"However if someone comes to us and says we want to spend a whole bunch of money on Binnington Esplanade we could reconsider."
But Cr Williamson said he had grand plans for an innovation hub planned for the light industrial zones at Victoria St.
He said if connected to Queensland's digital infrastructure, it could become a hub for automated industries like mining, agriculture and aquaculture.
"Our aim is it (automation centres) shouldn't be in bloody Brisbane. It should be based out of Mackay," Cr Williamson said.
"That's what will keep the kids in Mackay.
"Why would I leave Mackay because the jobs of the future are here.
"It's up to us to facilitate it."
Cr Williamson said in his vision the light industrial zone would be completely off the grid, by creating its own electricity.
"You have to stand out of the map otherwise it will remain as a grey patch for years," he said.