The Port of Airlie development has gone into receivership before its completion but day-to-day operations aren’t expected to change.
The Port of Airlie development has gone into receivership before its completion but day-to-day operations aren’t expected to change. Tom Williams

Business as usual as project stalls

THE Port of Airlie has gone into receivership before the multimillion-dollar development is even fully complete.

However, the change of hands won’t affect day-to-day operations and business is expected to continue full steam ahead.

McGrathNicol was appointed receiver and manager of Meridien’s Port of Airlie development on Tuesday and has assumed control of its assets.

Whitsunday Mayor Mike Brunker said it was unfortunate but for all retailers operating from the development it was business as usual.

“Russell (McCart, Meridien’s managing director) has tried his damnedest to get this project up under some of the worst economic conditions we’ve seen for a while,” Cr Brunker said.

While Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer Peter O’Reilly agreed with Cr Brunker, he said it was a bit of a blow to the morale of the business owners of the region.

“(Port of Airlie) has been a really important project and one that we were sort of looking for... to set new benchmarks for the main street of Airlie,” he said.

Minister for Tourism Jan Jarratt said: “I hope this is the last we see of properties going into receivership. I’d like to think that we’ve turned a corner and the market will pick up again soon.”

McGrathNicol partner Peter Anderson said the firm would be working closely with management and other stakeholders to confirm the current financial position of Port of Airlie and taking steps to ensure the business was stabilised and continued to support its customers.

Meridien’s managing director Russell McCart said Meridien would work closely with McGrathNicol to continue the development.

“Port of Airlie has been 10 years in the making and Meridien has committed over $200 million into the project,” Mr McCart said.

“Meridien has completed the majority of infrastructure works including the marina basin, 15 beachfront land lots, the public Boathaven Beach and parklands, 56 Boathouse Apartments managed by Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, completion of the marina berth first stage and waterfront retail and dining precinct.”

Retailers include The Coffee Club, Calypso Fashion, Aimer Accessories and Billabong.

Fantasea Adventure Cruising general manager Rob Addis said Fantasea still planned to relocate its operations terminal and berthing to the Port of Airlie Marina.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s all go for us. We hope to be working out of there in December,” he said.

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