Fate of Wisemans Ferry development in question

Mainstream surf media love two things about wave pools: Insta clips of big airs and, well unfortunately, when a wave pool project tanks.

BeachGrit, Stab, Swellnet and others reported with gusto this week that the Wisemans Ferry project is dead. All platform posts stem from a Swellnet article based on a Facebook post by radio station Coast FM.

The Classic Hits FM station posted a press release from BALNCE which stated the project was shelved due to rising construction costs and excessive rain. Sydney did have one of the wettest years on record according to data, but it appears the financial side of the equation was the most damaging to the project.

“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),” read the statement.

“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.”

The unverified press release continued:

“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.”

“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.”

The project made a lot of noise in 2020 when the local council approved the plan. Ace Chief Group paid $7.25 million for 18 hectares in 2016, partnering with John Du Vernet to develop a reported $120million surf spot away from the ocean.

“What we’ll create at Wisemans is a solution to access the types of waves we’d often have to travel overseas for, waves we dream about,” co-founder John Du Vernet told The Urban Developer in a now removed post.

Architect Kelvin Ho led the revamp of the former hotel while Jaron Mitchell and Sean Ronan worked on bringing it to life financially. Sydney area surfers could invest $30K for access and a piece of the development. All media reports stated investors would have their money returned to them.

No further information is available through Wisemans or via the Wisemans Ferry website. Knowing that these projects have a way of resurfacing (the land is secured and so is council approval) stay tuned as we explore this ongoing story.

Endless Surf 2023A