ON SITE: David Caracciolo with the proposed site of 'The Pier' in the background.
ON SITE: David Caracciolo with the proposed site of 'The Pier' in the background. Tony Martin

Developer claims restrictions could impact river project

HIGH-END apartments overlooking the glistening Pioneer River. This was developer David Caracciolo's dream for the past 12 years.

However, this dream may fall apart if the proposed Mackay Regional Council waterfront Priority Development Area (PDA) is implemented, Mr Caracciolo claims.

Mr Caracciolo said his proposal to develop 6 River St has been reduced to a third of its original height under the proposed PDA.

His previously approved 8-10 storey apartment complex could be rezoned to just three storeys.

Mr Caracciolo said he and other developers felt blind-sided by the city plan.

"We're unaware that this was in the pipeline," he said.

Mr Caracciolo says his development might not ever be built, if the proposed scheme is implemented.

"If they do in their wisdom reduce the height it will make it just not viable," he said.

"I know that the building that we've got proposed, the units will definitely will not go ahead."

The Waterfront PDA is still in its consultative stages and is not yet the Council's official policy. However, Mr Caracaiolo feels he is in a race against time to get his development approved.

Even though the project has been more than a decade in the making, Ms Caracciolo already knows he will not get approval before the new PDA comes into affect.

"The way the economy is at the moment, to kick things into gear it will take quite a few months to get the ball rolling. Our plans are three parts of the way through. We haven't finalised all our complete building plan.

"It's quite nerve wracking. We totally did not expect this. We spent quite a lot of money getting to this stage where we're at now."

Mr Caracaiolo said the potential new zoning would tear apart work that has been in progress since 2007, when he initially gained approval for his riverside complex.

After extensive negotiations with council, by July 2007 Mr Caracciolo said he had already managed to sell 30-40 per cent of his 8-10 storey apartment complex.

But then the global financial crisis hit. Banks tightened their lending policies and developers started to "wait on their hands to see what would happen", Mr Caracciolo said.

He finally decided to put his development on hold when "the Mackay economy fell in a hole with the mining sector".

"We didn't want to risk any financial hardship to anyone involved," he said.

With population increasing, activity in the resources sector and a sense of ambition and optimism coming from MRC, Mr Caracciolo thought it was finally time to dust off his development application.

With all the elements finally in tune, Mr Caracciolo was crushed to discover his project could come crashing to the ground.

Other developers are also nervous about the potential riverfront building height restrictions.

In a submission to Mackay Regional Council, the Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland has said the proposed waterfront redevelopment "missed a critical opportunity".

Mackay Regional Council was contacted for comment but could not respond by time of publication.

See further editions for comment from MRC.