Harvey pulls Byron resort off market
By MEGAN KINNINMENT
RETAIL billionaire Gerry Harvey has paid tens of millions of dollars for a holiday home in Byron Bay he is not allowed to stay in.
Just weeks before his $50 million Byron at Byron resort is due to open, Mr Harvey has pulled its 92 apartments off the market, telling The Northern Star: "This is so bloody fantastic I think I'll keep it all to myself".
However, sources close to the project say the real reason is an estimated $5 million blow-out in construction costs, a lack of sales, and problems with the Byron Shire Council, which is unlikely to sign off on the resort this year.
Prices for a one-bedroom apartment started at $440,000 and were heavily marketed in the national press.
Marketing agent Ray White also mailed 20,000 glossy brochures around Australia to its wealthiest clients, and an expensive website was set up.
Although hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on marketing, only 22 contracts were issued and 10 days ago the on-site marketing office closed.
Ray White Ballina principal David Brown would not comment on the reasons given to his agency to pull the plug on an estimated $50 million worth of sales.
"We have a lot of people sit- ting there wanting to buy these units, but they are on hold until the company makes up its mind," Mr Brown said.
Mr Harvey said he now planned on using the resort to hold conferences, with guests to be accommodated in the units.
However, that plan is also up in the air, with the development coming under fire from Byron Shire Council over development breaches, making it unlikely the council will issue an occupation certificate this year.
The project was granted consent in the Land and Environment Court on the basis that sewage could be adequately treated and disposed of on-site.
However, Mr Harvey has gone ahead with plans to dispose of the treated effluent on the neighbouring golf course.
He has also moved an effluent storage tank that was supposed to be sited under the main conference centre, has not installed effluent filtration pipes under the resort's concrete car park, as per his approval, and has set up an unapproved greywater reuse system in the apartments.
Byron Shire general manager Pam Westing said Mr Harvey had brought the costly delays on himself.
"They should have come to council before they decided to make changes," she said. "If it costs them extra, that's not something the council can take on board."