Friday, March 17, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
A fledgling community is developing at the once highly acclaimed Laguna Quays with residents accepting the challenge to determine their own future within this large rural paradise.
The new movement to reinvigorate the community is being led by Vic Schembri, a retired builder and property developer who owns two Cascade Condominium units and a piece of land at Banguru Creek.
Over the past year, Vic has brought the Laguna Quays community together.
He initiated the formation of the Laguna Quays Progress Association, now an association of hundreds of Laguna Quays’ lot owners.
A successful appeal on an insurance claim for damage caused by 2017 Cyclone Debbie, saw Laguna Quays’ Cascade Condominiums receive a well-deserved settlement.
The Body Corporate used the funds to make repairs and beautify the residential areas.
Roof tiles have been replaced with new Colourbond roofing, timber balustrades have been removed and a weather enduring material sits there instead.
Flood overflows have been redirected and timber mulch has been replaced with stone pebbles.
Taking on the role of Project Manager, Vic has personally overseen contractors and ensured that every cent of the insurance money has been put to good use.
He believes that the work done at Cascade Condominiums will now have a trickle-on effect and could breathe new life into other areas.
“All you need is for one house to be built here and it will encourage others,” he explains.
Driving around Laguna Quays today, you can see promise and potential starting to return; the gardens are trimmed, the blocks of units look smart, and the laneways are maintained.
Currently, there are three main residential areas at Laguna Quays, each with its own body corporates; 80 units at Cascade Apartments, 38 at the neighbouring Hillside Apartments and 15 large Club Villas.
There are also 250 privately owned plots of land which represent prime real estate opportunities for discerning investors to be part of a community on the cusp of flourishing once again.
These are located within seven precincts and many of these have now agreed to clear their building blocks and restore services making way for owners to build.
Vic hopes that by continuing to reinvigorate the area, this could in turn increase house prices and stimulate demand.
Located just 20 minutes from Whitsunday Coast Airport, Laguna Quays was the vision of Japanese businessman and avid scuba diver, Shinichi Sawada, who opened a luxury resort there in 1992.
He invested $250 million into Laguna Quays and, upon opening, it was considered a jewel of Queensland’s luxury tourism crown – it boasted an 84-berth marina, an 18-hole International-standard golf course and a 15-hectare, pump-filtered, seafront lagoon, complete with islands and a five star "beach club".
Unfortunately, the business went into receivership in 1995 and was bought by Melbourne developer, David Marriner a year later.
Despite efforts to rejuvenate the resort, it went into receivership again and was bought by its current owner, Chinese company Fullshare Holdings Group, in 2012.
Since then, any further development has stalled and the promise of significant development never eventuated.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for the Chinese developers to invest in this place - and it hasn’t happened yet!” said Vic.
“So, I said ‘well hang on, let’s do it ourselves, let’s turn it into a thriving residential community’ - all it takes is to make a start and the rest will follow!”
The residents that own property on the site have now grown to establish a strong and connected community.
The tranquillity of a bushland setting with an abundance of native animals and bird life makes Laguna Quays, a true paradise.
Despite the odds, Vic’s passion and dedication, and that of the Progress Association’s owners, are already paying off - there is a real sense of community at Laguna Quays.
“It’s a great place to live,” said Vic, who will begin building his five-bedroom dream house on-site at Banguru Creek later in the year.
“All the people who live here love the place and I just wanted to let the community know about the positive change we are seeing – hopefully they will come down and have a look for themselves!”
Residents take revitalisation efforts into their own hands, with Vic Schembri at the helm. Photo credit: Rachael Smith
Some of the plots of land available to build upon are located on the beautiful scenic lake