Demand for marina queried by councillor

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 13:27 19/12/2012

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Does Queenstown have enough boats to fill Queenstown's proposed $6.5 million, 196-berth marina?

That was one question asked during a meeting of the Queenstown Lakes District Council, where the marina project was discussed yesterday.

Lakes Marina Projects Ltd was appointed the "preferred developer" of the Frankton Marina project, but questions were also asked over whether the marina would have enough protection from waves.

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 Lakes Marina Projects founding shareholder Alan Kirker said Mr Cocks was entitled to ask the question, but the business venture was being solely backed by private finance, and that no comment would be made at this stage, except to say he and other backers had complete confidence all berths would be filled over time.

The company's other founding shareholders are Nasser and Iraj Barabi who have launched multiple multimillion-dollar companies in Silicon Valley.

Their company Essai Inc employs 200 people and has yearly sales of US$60 million (NZ$71.2m), built on the semiconductor and electronics markets. Both Nasser and Iraj Barabi own properties within the Wakatipu basin and propose to move here permanently, the company's expression of interest states.

The executive summary of the proposal says the "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.

The meeting's agenda originally stated that a working party in charge of appointing the preferred operator would include the power of issuing resource consents. This was amended at the meeting.

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- The Southland Times

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