Melbourne-based developer Wel.Co, headed by former Essendon AFL footballer Andrew Welch, has landed the rights to develop a $400 million residential and marina precinct in the heart of Renmark on the largest remaining mixed-used site in South Australia’s Riverland region.
The prime Murray River site, placed to the open market by the Renmark Paringa Council last year via an expressions of interest campaign in search of a development partner, is expected to create 780 new residential lots and a 100-berth mixed-use marina precinct that is aimed at capitalising on Renmark’s rising popularity as a tourist destination.
Wel.Co, which has a strong track record of delivering master-planned communities in South Australia and Victoria, will now lock in the final details of the master plan with hopes that it can start construction of the landmark development within 12 to 18 months.
The project will deliver the final stage of the Jane Eliza River Estate which was first proposed by father-and-son duo Ian and Hauge Showell in 1986.
The new development is aimed at leveraging off Renmark’s position as the centre of the Murray River houseboat fleet in South Australia, lifting the city’s reputation as a tourism and lifestyle hub in recent years.
Renmark has a resident population of about 10,000 people and the Jane Eliza extension is expected to accommodate a further 2,000 residents when completed. The project is expected to largely comprise traditional house-and-land products and deliver a collection of terrace homes and open public spaces set alongside the mixed-use marina precinct.
“Renmark has seen significant growth from a tourism perspective which in turn will bring more employment and more need for housing, and to have a quality marina that highlights the fantastic Murray and all it has to offer is obviously the key,” Welch tells Business News Australia.
“Across the country we’re seeing an increase in agriculture which is really exciting for areas like Renmark that have a pretty strong existing presence in the ag industry. Attracting more businesses to the area in that field is something that has been really prevalent in the past 12 months, and that in turn will bring more people, more jobs.
“That’s what the council wants to move forward on the last development front for the town. They want to make sure that they are catering for that population growth.”
Wel.Co, a company founded and headed by Welch, has been active in both the Victorian and South Australian residential markets in recent years with master-planned projects such as Springwood in Gawler and Yallarah in Echuca, both of which comprise 2,000 lots each.
Plans for the marina will involve an expansion of an existing smaller marina on the site, which will involve excavating part of the site to accommodate 100 berths for houseboats and recreational watercraft.
The Jane Eliza development has been described by the local council as the largest and most significant residential project in the history of the Riverland. The construction phase will create more than 300 full-time-equivalent jobs while the project itself has been forecast to deliver a $109 million boost to the local economy each year when completed.
Renmark Paringa Council’s CEO Tony Siviour describes Jane Eliza as the largest residential development ever proposed for the Riverland.
“This is significant for Renmark because we are quite constrained from a land perspective,” Siviour tells Business News Australia.
“We have the Murray River on one side of us and we have irrigated horticulture all the way around the town, so we are quite constrained.
“The town has been wanting to grow and there has been significant demand for residential land here for quite some time, with no supply whatsoever. As a community, this project underscores our ability to sustainably grow.”
The development still needs to achieve a planning code amendment with the South Australian Government to proceed, which will determine the ultimate timeframe for the development.
The Jane Eliza estate expansion has been a work in progress for the Renmark Paringa Council for the past two years. The existing estate comprises about 200 homes that were completed in the early 1990s. The current proposal continues the original vision proposed for the site more than 30 years ago.
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