Johnson Property Group tasks JLL to list joint venture opportunity

An advertisement listing a joint venture opportunity for part of the Trinity Point development raised concerns that financiers for the multi-million-dollar resort and apartment complex may have lost interest or that the developers, Johnson Property Group, were considering other ideas.

RIGHT FIT: Developer Keith Johnson says he's looking for an investor to bring "expertise" to the resort.

RIGHT FIT: Developer Keith Johnson says he's looking for an investor to bring "expertise" to the resort.

But according to Keith Johnson, the man behind the $388 million Morisset Park development, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“It’s taken me 10 years to get all the approvals for this – to think we’re walking away from this is just a joke,” he said.

Commercial real estate multinational JLL has been tasked with listing the potential partnership, as reported in the Newcastle Herald’s Domain property section on Saturday. Included is a masterplan-approved precinct that features a 188-berth marina, 65-room Pullman hotel, day spa, gym, restaurant, function centre and 250 luxury apartments.

Mr Johnson wouldn’t be drawn on specifics but said significant interest had been shown from international investors. The 196 subdivision lots and 20 terrace homes that are also planned for the community are still being sold by the Johnson Property Group with 10 prime lots due to be released on Sunday, fetching upwards of $1.5 million each.

Morisset Park and District Action Group president Tom Dumbrell had concerns that funds for the project could be drying up – labelling it “a pipe dream”.

“[Mr Johnson] was previously saying he had financiers in place and they've clearly lost interest,” he said.

ARTIST IMPRESSION: The masterplan approved precinct features a 188-berth marina, Pullman hotel, restaurant and function centre and 250 luxury apartments.

ARTIST IMPRESSION: The masterplan approved precinct features a 188-berth marina, Pullman hotel, restaurant and function centre and 250 luxury apartments.

“It all seems to hinge on the helipad and the proposal for the helipad has been with the [NSW Department of Planning and Environment] for some months now.”

Mr Johnson said that the helipad was necessary to ensure genuine “five-star luxury” and provide a link to the international airport, vineyards and Sydney but added that it was always the plan to enter into a partnership with “someone who could bring expertise to the table”.

“I will never own less than 50 per cent of [the marina complex],” he said. “I don’t know about hotels and function centres, so having someone invest in it that has that expertise was always the plan.”

He confirmed that upscale international hotel brand Pullman would still operate the hotel. Mr Dumbrell said all assurances aside, he still held many concerns – one being the marina’s size.

“It has a huge marina - 188 berths, we find it hard to believe they will fill more than 70 of the 188 berths,” Mr Dumbrell said.

Though, according to Mr Johnson, the marina may not meet demand: “Our demand studies showed the need for Lake Macquarie [berths] was 600. We applied for 308 and we got 188 approved.”

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