All money, say the operators of the failed tank, will be refunded on 31 July 2023 to the bank account nominated by the investor.
Three years ago, the dream of every money-rich, time-poor Sydney surfer appeared set to become true with the launch of a luxury, member-only wavepool an hour and a half drive run north in the Cayenne from Bondi Beach.
Initially set to open in 2022, the pool and resort at Wiseman’s Ferry on the Hawkesbury River was backed by Joel Parkinson, Stephanie Gilmore, Josh Kerr, Olympic coach Bede Durbidge, Jack Freestone and Alana Blanchard.
Digital marketer John Du Vernet, one of the three principals in the project, came up with the idea for the resort while gardening.
“I was jealous of my friends who could play golf and go cycling all the time, while the surf is only good a few days every year, and everyone knows when that is because of [surfing] apps. A good surf and wave can live with you for months and years, but it’s hard to get that experience.”
The way it worked was you buy a membership, either base, gold or platinum plus an annual fee and it gave you a set amount of time in the tank, which was gonna be a Tom Lochtefeld Surf Loch but later turned into Endless Surf tech, and guaranteed rooms at the Kelvin Ho-designed resort. Investors were encouraged to use their retirement funds (called superannuation in Australia) to buy in, memberships cleverly configured a part-ownership of the joint.
Now, and as per a report on SwellNet which came via a press release on Facebook by a regional radio station, the project has been canned following wild rains on the notoriously flood-prone river although cost blow-outs is the official reason for the tank’s collapse.
Funny, during those rains I kept thinking, ooowee, wonder how the boys up at Wiseman’s are doin’. Texted ’em, was reassured and so on.
But here we are.
From Central Coast radiation station Coast FM, 963 on your dial if you’re in the area,
The glossy masterplan for “Australia’s first private resort-style surfing destination”, at Wisemans Ferry on the Hawkesbury River, was certainly alluring.
To be set among 18.2ha of bushland an hour from North Sydney, the Wisemans Surf Lodge will have a “12,600sqm ocean-like, wave-generating pool, a chic hotel, restaurant and six-hole golf course,” a destination tourism experts believe could be a drawcard if done right. And, with a minimum investment of $30,000 to buy into an ‘integrated resort destination’, the appeal was there.
Now, a mere four months since building was set to start reforming a thirty-year-old hotel on the property, developers are handing back investors’ money.
“The recent news regarding the completion of our civil tender and the challenges we have faced in securing a viable price during a hyper-escalated market may have left questions (to be answered),” said a spokesperson in a statement released earlier this week.
“Unfortunately, since the completion of our civil tender, we have been unable to secure a construction price that maintains an adequate contingency for the fund due to hyper-escalation.
“While we’ve completed several rounds of preliminary project pricing throughout this journey, to maintain an accurate and viable fund build-up, the development costs have changed so dramatically that simply adding more debt or equity to compensate does not preserve a viable financial model that the investment is based upon,” added the spokesperson.
“No unitholders’ funds will be lost, all investments will be refunded in full. Unitholder funds have never been used for any purposes and have been held in the Custodian’s trust account as outlined in the PDS.
All money will be refunded on 31 July 2023 to the bank account nominated by the investor.