Acton pulls plug on $60m project

ROCKHAMPTON Regional Council will go back to the drawing board after a $60 million project to develop a riverside cultural precinct was scrapped yesterday.

Responding to questions from The Morning Bulletin, the council and Acton Property Corporation issued a joint statement announcing the River Reach Project would no longer proceed.

When plans were unveiled 18 months ago it was reported the development would see the Pilbeam Theatre carpark, Rockhampton Art Gallery and three old houses lining the riverfront, along Victoria Parade, transformed into a 16-storey residential, commercial and retail project.

Then the project was hailed as the catalyst for the city's coming of age.

Yesterday's statement said the massive development was a victim of the global financial meltdown.

The council and developers had met in recent weeks to discuss the project's viability.

“Since planning of this development commenced, we have seen a global financial meltdown which has affected many similar developments across the country,” the statement said.

“Due to the magnitude of the proposed development and its importance to the Rockhampton landscape it has been agreed that the project be set aside and reviewed at a later date.”

Council chief executive Alastair Dawson acknowledged this took the council back to “square one”.

But Mr Dawson was confident that once the market returned, the future for the site looked bright.

He wasn't speculating when this was likely to be and said it depended on the market.

“This region is ready for it,” Mr Dawson said.

The council said the Acton Property Corporation, which won the right to develop the site in February 2008 after the then Rockhampton City Council called for proposals to develop the area in 2007, had been a good and professional partner.

Mr Dawson estimated the council's costs on the project at about $40,000.

Acton Property Corporation director and Central Queensland cattle baron Graeme Acton yesterday referred The Morning Bulletin to fellow director and developer Andrew Beaumont who declined to comment further.

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