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By Mark Beale

WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has accepted a $2.5 million tender for the sale of vacant land on Waterson Way, to be transformed into a $300million Chinatown development in the heart of Airlie Beach.

Mayor Jennifer Whitney said the successful tender proposal was for a tourism-based mixed-use development, combining a landmark hotel and short-term accommodation, along with up to 100 shops and restaurants.

The design consists of a central open-air pedestrian mall, with ground floor retail and entertainment venues, fronting an events plaza adjacent to the Airlie Creek boardwalk.

Whitsunday Regional Council opened the tender for the 2.1 hectare prime parcel of land on Waterson Way in August, promoting it through the ‘Building a Better Whitsunday’ campaign.

Cr Whitney said a large number of inquiries were received, with Whitsunday Chinatown Investment Pty Ltd offering the $2.5 million purchase price, along with a significant development proposal which met all the assessment criteria.

She said it was written into the contract that once the development was approved and the development lease signed, the developer would have a maximum of three years to construct the development, with substantial works to be undertaken by March 2016.

Cr Whitney said this was a very exciting time for the Whitsunday region with the Chinatown development set to bring hundreds of millions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs.

“The development aims to introduce to Airlie Beach a diverse commercial, retail and entertainment precinct that will attract tourists in its own right, complementing the existing main street offerings, without directly competing with established businesses,” she said.

“This project is the largest tourism development to occur in regional Queensland in the last 10 years and will create thousands of jobs, not just in the design and construction phase but also in the new precinct when it is complete.”

Cr Whitney said the project had been realised through the relationship between Whitsunday Regional Council and the China Australia Entrepreneurs Association Incorporated (CAEAI), which included last year’s trade mission by the mayor and Council’s CEO to China.

The Chinatown development is the first step in the CAEAI’s proposed broader $5 billion investment in the Whitsunday region which includes a Buddhist temple, integrated resort development and the upgrading of the Whitsunday Coast Airport to international standard.

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