Zaha Hadid Architects’ Gold Coast twin-tower proposal withdrawn

Developer Sunland has formally withdrawn its development application for a $600-million, 44-storey twin tower project designed by Zaha Hadid Architects on the Gold Coast.

The proposed development, dubbed The Mariner, was to be located on Sea World Drive in The Spit, a waterfront area which is mostly crown land. Earlier this month, the Gold Coast City Council resolved to delay a decision on the development application for up to 12 months, pending a masterplan for The Spit, which the council wants to develop in partnership with the Queensland state government.

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In a statement, Sunland chairman Soheil Abedian expressed support for a masterplan. “We feel it is important the masterplanning process is unencumbered, without any perceived time pressures from existing development applications,” Abedian said. “For this reason we are withdrawing our development application for The Mariner until such time that a masterplan for the precinct can be agreed upon.”

The twin tower development was one of the last projects designed by the late Zaha Hadid, founder of Zaha Hadid Architects, who died suddenly in March 2016.

The development would have included 370 apartments, a boutique hotel with 69 suites, an art gallery, museum, outdoor sculpture gardens and an underground aquarium.

The aquarium proposed as part of the Mariners Cove development on the Southport Spit.

The aquarium proposed as part of the Mariners Cove development on the Southport Spit.

Image: Courtesy Sunland Group

The Gold Coast City Council planning officers’ report was critical of the development, and recommended it be refused by council.

“A review of the proposed development against the City Plan confirms that the proposed development will result in a significant level of conflict with the Strategic Framework of the City Plan,” the officers’ report said. “The conflict relates to the building height, scale and intensity of the development and its ability to maintain the low rise character of The Spit.”

The 44-storey towers were proposed for a site which currently has a three-storey height limit.

The proposal received a total of 121 submissions and two separate petitions containing a total of 4,258 signatures. “The majority of the submissions received, including the petitions, objected to the proposed development, while five submissions received supported the development,” the officers’ report said.

Gold Coast City Council’s planning committee chair Cameron Caldwell described Sunland’s decision to withdraw the application as “gesture of goodwill.”

“This gives the council and the state government the opportunity to move forward in this process without this application hanging around in the background potentially colouring what the outcome may have been,” Caldwell said.

“Council identified clearly that there are certain challenges around traffic and movement of people around The Spit as well as maintaining open green space for the city.”

Sunland chairman Soleil Abedian said, “It is our ardent hope that the state government and council, upon completion of the masterplan, allow projects such as The Mariner to have a place in the future of our city.”

An aerial view of the twin towers on the Southport Spit, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.

An aerial view of the twin towers on the Southport Spit, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.

Image: Courtesy Sunland Group

The Queensland state government owns a five-hectare parcel of land south of Sea World, which is slated for a casino resort, masterplanned by Cox Rayner (now Cox Architecture). The casino resort, to be developed by ASF Consortium, would be situated a few hundred metres from Sunland’s development.

The state government has not yet committed to taking part in Gold Coast City Council’s masterplanning process for The Spit.

“It would be extremely disappointing if the state government didn’t take this opportunity to work with council,” Caldwell said. “We’ve seen that the state has significant interests in this location, particularly around the ASF proposal and we would urge them to work with us closely so that we can make sure we map out what the best future is for this part of the Gold Coast.

“Ideally we need to see a plan that recognizes the opportunities that we see there, whether that be with respect to the ASF development, a cruise ship terminal or other development opportunities as well as protecting and recognizing the recreational values of The Spit.”

ASF Consortium had a previous casino resort proposal for Wave Break Island, north of The Spit, which included a cruise ship terminal. The proposal was knocked back by the state government due to concerns over the environmental impact of the dredging that would have been required.

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