Ex-Mean Machine wants to keep Noosa business afloat
In his epic Olympic battle against Rowdy Gaines at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, Mark Stockwell was pipped at the finish for the 100m freestyle silver after what many still consider to be a dodgy race start.
Way back then Stockwell was not even set on his block when the starter’s gun fired, but an Australian team protest by the former Mean Machine relay team member was dismissed.
World Swimming Magazine in 1984 quoted the Aussie swimmer taking it on the chin straight after the medal ceremony.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Rowdy,” he said.
“I mean, he’s great. He’s been around for a long time and he knows what to look out for. It just wasn’t a fair start.”
Fast forward to 2020 and Mr Stockwell, the developer and owner of Noosa Civic, is hoping for a better outcome on Monday when Noosa Council votes to possibly settle a legal challenge he’s made for a planning refusal for his 23-lot subdivision designed to complete his vision for the shire business centre.
If his drawn-out master plan, designed to make Noosa locals less inclined to drive down to the Sunshine Plaza for much of their weekly spends was a race, his fast-twitch fibres would have burnt out years ago.
Instead Mr Stockwell has shown the long distance patience of Kieren Parkin’s wily 1500m freestyle assault on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, when he came from lane eight in the final to take the gold.
Not that the development bid is across the line yet, but senior planners have recommended a settlement with lengthy conditions.
And some councillors from previous discussions have already indicated they want something worthwhile built on this last significant chunk of coastal development land in Noosa.
During lengthy negotiations Mr Stockwell has agreed to trade off to council lot 24 for a future transit facility to compensate for the loss of koala habitat.
“This (business centre) has been the vision of the community since 1996, which is 24 years ago,” Mr Stockwell said.
“When the strategic plan in 1997 came out, it earmarked it and we’ve been going ever since.
“In 1996 everyone was driving to Maroochydore on a daily basis, unemployment was very high there was a severe lack of part-time jobs.”
Enter Mr Stockwell with a goal of building the Civic and helping council’s forward planners realise the shire business centre that aimed for a mix of retail at the Civic and other multipurpose uses, including knowledge-based businesses.
To secure stage one, which Mr Stockwell has built, he agreed to spend multiple millions of dollars to build the nearby local road networks and is prepared to complete the “circle link” from Walter Hay Dr to Hofmann Dr.
“Back then the roads were choked,” Mr Stockwell said.
“I four-laned Eenie Creek Rd, I built the northern section of the Walter Hay Dr.
“I certainly feel like I’m part of the place.”
He said he paid a $24 million infrastructure package all up back in 2003.
“The thing is this (appeal settlement) still has to get through council, it’s still before the court,” he said.
“If council approves to settle the appeal it means we can open up the shire business centre for business and we can create more business opportunities.
“We’re going to keep all the land to expand the village mixed use, which is substantial, but there is also a lot of peripheral land there and we see that going to affordable housing and a whole variety of business.”
He said the land could be sold to new child care start centres or local innovation start-ups for Noosa’s creatives.
He said whoever buys into these lots will help the business centre create more jobs in construction, but also through these new outlets.
Mr Stockwell said the Civic had performed very well during COVID-19 as there is a move away from retail and into services.
Going forward he said: “I think it’s about jobs and housing for the locals.”
“What this allows us to do is deliver the missing infrastructure … it allows us to keep working with council and this community to achieve the vision that’s been actually outlined yet again in the new planning scheme that came in a month ago.
“I just want to get on with it.”
Mr Stockwell’s more than happy to exchange the “mean” for a Noosa shade of green, but until his decades-long goal is achieved, he won’t be heading to the developer’s warm-down pool any time soon.