Five-star resort will be first cab off Sekisui rank
A FIVE-STAR beachfront resort will be in the first stage of any development undertaken at the controversial Sekisui House site at Yaroomba.
After yesterday's announcement that Sekisui House had partnered with international hoteliers Starwood Hotels and Resorts on the resort, Sekisui House senior development manager Evan Aldridge confirmed the hotel component would be among the first rolled out on the site.
UNVEILED: Starwood Hotels brought in as partner
Mr Aldridge told the Daily today the decision to bring Starwood in to consult on what is envisioned as the 220-room Westin Coolum Resort and Spa was in response to issues raised in early discussions with selected community representatives.
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"There was a lot of uncertainty around the timing of the hotel," Mr Aldridge said.
"We fleshed out (during discussions) that was very important there was some certainty about that (hotel development)."
He said the hotel would be in the first component of any development in any future proposals put forward and that had driven the decision to bring Starwood on board in the preliminary stages.
Mr Aldridge said Sekisui House would "definitely like to" complement any hotel development with some mixed-use/residential development as part of the first stage of what he said would be a multi-stage development.
Sekisui House had originally planned for a much larger hotel facility, although never submitted a formal DA.
The developer was unsuccessful in its bid to have the planning scheme amended last year to enable them to submit a formal development proposal.
There had been some uncertainty as to the timing of any development of a five-star resort on the site but Mr Aldridge said today the company had no issue with investing in such a facility in the early stages.
He said the decision had been driven in part to address what he said was a need for a five-star resort on the Coast as well as supporting the community in providing employment opportunities and the sense of community he said had been present at the former Hyatt Coolum Resort.
"It's important that we establish that up front," Mr Aldridge said.
"It gives certainty around the rest of the masterplan."
Starwood Hotels yesterday expressed plans to see the hotel opened by 2021.
Mr Aldridge today said he didn't expect to see any development unfold before then and said the 2021 timeline was a little bit of a "crystal ball" figure, with the planning process still yet to run its course.
"We need to obviously follow the planning process," he said.
"We would definitely look at what would be complementing that (hotel) in that first stage (of the development)."
He said the hotel would also dictate the rest of the development in terms of identifying main access points, connectivity and ongoing development of the balance of the site.
"It will be a multi-stage development," he said.
He said the roll-out of the development in terms of mixture of uses and accommodation of the site would become clearer once the plans for the site are more tightly defined.
That process was expected to occur after community representatives were once again engaged with a broad concept, before the wider community eventually sees a more detailed proposal.
The Japanese development firm was widely criticised by the Yaroomba and surrounding community for its previous consultation methods with widespread protests eventually resulting in the council voting against amending the planning scheme.
Mr Aldridge yesterday confirmed 10-storeys was "off the table", but the make-up of any exact plans for the site is yet to be seen.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts' Sean Hunt yesterday said the planned 220-guestroom resort would also include 850 sq m of conference facilities and four speciality restaurants.
Mr Hunt said he expected the proposal to create "hundreds" of jobs.