Geelong’s emergence from the shadows of its manufacturing past is gathering pace, with Victoria’s second-biggest city opening a new boating marina on Corio Bay.
The 200-berth floating marina, designed by international firm Bellingham Marine, is part of the $100 million Balmoral Quay mixed-used development on the site of the former Rippleside shipyard, one of a string of residential, hotel and commercial projects reshaping Geelong following the closures of the Ford factory and Alcoa steel plant in recent years.
Alongside the new marina, the impending redevelopment of the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, the nearby Portarlington Safe Harbour project and the Festival of Sails regatta are all enhancing Geelong’s status as a major boating and leisure destination to rival Melbourne and Sydney.
Boating Industry Association of Victoria CEO Steve Walker said the boating sector was big business in Victoria with 400,000 marine licence holders, 200,000 registered recreational vessels and $4.5 billion in annual economic activity.
“Boating, however, has facility and infrastructure shortcomings so a project such as this is a great thing for boating, for infrastructure, for Geelong, for Victoria,” Mr Walker said.
Alongside the new marina – the first completed stage has 30 berths – the first two stages of Balmoral Quay’s apartments and townhouses development have sold out at an average price of $1.1 million, and a third stage will launch in May.
The development is a joint venture between Melbourne developer BMA Property and a consortium of local and international investors including Chase Properties, Serafini Hay and Thai-based Supalai, represented in Australia by Gersh Investment Partners.
“After initial doubt in Geelong returns we have realised they are just as good as elsewhere,” said Supalai director Dr Prasa Tangmatitam in October.
Other investors are also showing faith in Geelong including local resident Matthew Sun who is developing The Mercer, a 15-storey apartment tower, and Melbourne developer Paul Franze who is planning a $150-$200 million mixed-use project in the heart of the CBD which will include a 190-room Holiday Inn Hotel plus serviced apartments, offices and retail space.
Balmoral Quay selling agent Jim Cross, from McGrath Geelong, said the dollar price per square metre at Balmoral Quay was unbeatable for a marina precinct within an hour of an Australian capital city.
“Square metre rates at Geelong’s development average $9000 per square metre for genuine waterfront compared to marina, river or beach frontage residences at Docklands and Port Melbourne averaging over $15,000 per square metre,” he said.
“This is about the emergence of Victoria’s second city as a mature, world-class city and nothing says that better than a top-class boutique marina in a sleek waterside residential precinct.”