The developer behind what was Birubi Resort has offered the community a vision of hope that would see guests lodgings in Christmas 2019.
Under a new name – Anna Bay Resort – developer Frank Shi foresees a 4.5 star property under the management of an international hotel chain, befitting its location on the southern hemisphere’s biggest sand dunes.
“If we can get the section 96 approval in the next two or three months we can finish it in 18 months,” Anna Bay Resort director Frank Shi said.
The Chinese-born developer is based week-to-week in Sydney but has maintained a watchful eye over the project since he bought the financially-stricken project in May 2016.
As a naturalised Australian, he’s long taken an interest in the area and wants to see the area flourish.
“Ten years ago I came to Birubi Beach with my children, they were seven and five then,” he said.
“I very much like the Anna Bay-Birubi Beach sand dunes and I want the whole area to look better.
“It’s a beautiful place so why would we want to do bad things?”
What Mr Shi bought was a site that needed much work. In places sand had blown up against the buildings two metres deep.
The site was strewn with rubbish and covered in graffiti. His efforts to clean up the site have been hampered by more trespassers and vandals.
He estimates he’s already spent $1 million on site and that includes the replacement cost of a vandalised Bob Cat.
While Mr Shi has increased security at the site he’s called on the community to take some responsibility.
“We’ve got some naughty teenagers, maybe like you or I, at that age,” he said, as he reviewed security footage.
“We’re just trying to do it better but this hasn’t helped.”
The first stage of the resort includes 198 rooms. He’s lodged the section 96 application with council to amend to previous approval to make the front row of villas two storeys high.
The plans will also need to satisfy the Office of Environment and Heritage with it being a midden site.
“We want to keep everyone happy, council and the community,” Mr Shi said.
“We’re doing everything that council requires and they’re very good to work with.”
Mr Shi said the finished resort would be a real asset to Port Stephens.
“We are talking to three chain managers to contract out the hotel management,” he said.
“We want to bring more investment to the area, locally and from overseas.”
The site had sat idle for three years before Mr Shi bought it through administrators Grant Thornton, as part of an expressions of interest process.