Demand for Queenstown marina queried

Last updated 13:27 19/12/2012

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Two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are among backers of a company appointed to develop a proposed $6.5 million, 196-berth marina in Queenstown, but there are questions over whether the town has enough boats.

Lakes Marina Projects Ltd has been appointed the "preferred developer" of the Frankton Marina project by the Queenstown Lakes District Council. 

The company's founding shareholders include Nasser and Iraj Barabi, whose company Essai Inc employs 200 people and has yearly sales of US$60 million ($71.2m) in the semiconductor and electronics markets.

Both Nasser and Iraj Barabi own properties within the Wakatipu basin and proposed to move there permanently, the company's expression of interest stated.

The council's project manager, Ken Gousmett, called the move to appoint a preferred developer a "landmark decision" after decades of trying to get the project off the ground, but "there was still a long way to go."

However, Wanaka councillor Lyal Cocks asked: "Where are all the boats that will fill it?"  


Mayor Vanessa van Uden replied that the onus was on Lakes Marina Projects to prove they had a market.


After the meeting, another Lakes Marina Projects founding shareholder, Alan Kirker, said the business venture was being solely backed by private finance. Kirker said he and other backers had complete confidence all berths would be filled over time.

The executive summary of the proposal said "the primary source of revenue will come from the rental of boat slips and spaces for yachts", but that boat maintenance and repair services, fuelling, leasing commercial marine space and parking charges would also bolster revenue.

The marina would be completed in two stages, with 100 berths being fully operational before the rest were built.

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- The Southland Times


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