BUYERS have snapped up more than $41 million worth of investment and residential apartments in Rockhampton's Empire development.
In a massive vote of confidence for the $50m Victoria Parade project, developer Andrew Beaumont said 92 of 138 apartments had been bought off the plan.
"The great thing is of that $41 million, there's probably only three out of town (as in southern or interstate) buyers," he said.
"All the others are buyers we've either dealt with before on previous projects, or they've told somebody, or the people are locals, so it's a really good story for the region.
"It just goes to show, with all the negativity around, just how positive the region is."
Mr Beaumont said that like The Edge (his previous development, with Brian Griffin), Empire would mix residential and hotel accommodation, with the chance to expand on a winning formula that has seen an average occupancy rate for The Edge of 90%.
"Empire's a great site as it has three streets of frontage, so it really lets us do some things we haven't been able to do in the past," he said.
Features include eight penthouses and sub-penthouses priced up to $1.4 million - seven of which are already sold - a dedicated drop-off on East St and a 65-metre riverfront stretch featuring up to four restaurants.
There's already been interest from dining franchises down south, with a determination to get the mix right.
"The thing they love about it is because it's got the hotel above they've immediately got a captive audience, just like The Edge," Mr Beaumont said.
"A big percentage of The Edge restaurant's trade is from the hotel, so you're not just relying on the same people coming, you're getting a different market all the time. That's what they really like."
Mr Beaumont and Empire partner Wayne Riddell have sold management rights to Grant Cassidy, of Cassidy Hospitality Group, for more than $2m.
He also holds the rights to The Edge.
They will announce the builder at the end of the month with construction expected to start in December for completion in 2014.
The development is Queensland's largest residential project going to construction outside Brisbane.
Mr Beaumont said there were several exciting messages.
"I think the big one is it's such a big project outside that traditional south-east corner, and it's actually getting a start, whereas a lot of them aren't," he said.
The Edge and Empire also extended accommodation options for markets such as corporate and conference.
"There's nothing against hotels and motels, because there's always a demand for strip motels, but a lot of people who come to town didn't really have the choice, whereas now they have the choice," he said.
"And they leave with maybe a different perspective of Rockhampton when they can sit along the riverbank, have a unit overlooking the river and a restaurant downstairs."
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