Investors pump $10m into Cairns aquarium
THE developers behind the Cairns Aquarium have secured $10 million from private investors towards the $33.5 million project.
Trinity Beach businessmen Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston told The Cairns Post the project was intended as a private-public venture and there was $10 million in cash and kind committed by three private investors on top of the developers' $15 million contribution, including the $2 million they paid for a central CBD site.
Applications are before Regional Development Australia for $15 million, the Cairns Regional Council's investment attraction fund, the federal Tourism Investment Regional Fund for $250,000 and a direct request to Premier Campbell Newman.
Cairns Aquarium and Reef Research Centre Pty Ltd has bought a 4000sq m block of land next to the Novotel Oasis Cairns Resort in Abbott St for the three-level aquarium.
It has called for expressions of interest from specialist aquarium designers and intends applying for development approval from the regional council in August.
The company hopes to start construction in 2015 with an opening date late 2016.
The venture has widespread support from the council, the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre and the Wet Tropics Management Authority.
Mr Leipnik said he had no difficulty seeking public monies for the venture with every aquarium in Australia receiving or still receiving funding from governments.
"Very large precedents have already been set," Mr Leipnik said.
Mayor Bob Manning said the council supported the project which would stimulate the construction industry.
"The council welcomes the announcement and we'd like to see the project proceed as quickly as possible," he said.
The RRRC has signed a Mem- orandum of Understanding with the company.
Centre managing director Sheriden Morris said the centre "fully supported" the aquarium and was assisting the proponents, including making a joint application to the RDA for funding.
RDA Far North chief executive officer Sonja Johnson said expressions of interest for $185 million in regional grants would be assessed by the committee soon with each proposal being scored and ranked and three finalists being recommended to the Federal Government.
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Big deal: Trinity Beach business partners Andrew Preston and Daniel Leipnik plan top build an aquarium on 4000sq m of land in Cairns.