First there was the George Hotel. Next may be the Aristocracy Castle. That name (translated) comes from the foreign investor group that purchased the hilltop mansion in Langdale that overlooks the ferry terminal. Plans on the investors’ website* show the terminal gone. Instead there would be a grandiloquent village of shopping plazas and apartment projects, a string of hotels along the shore, and a massive waterfront structure that would make the George look like a small B&B.
I doubt if that’s a vision many Sunshine Coast residents want to see.
The investors purchased the property in 2015 for $6.666 million. (Six is a lucky number in China.) They are looking for funding to complete the project. They have asked the Gibsons Chamber of Commerce for support in changing the zoning for the property—just like the George did.
The George proposal went through with majority support from the business community in Lower Gibsons. The small, pretty shops and restaurants along Gower Point had suffered from the ebb and flow of the tourism dollar. The George promised to make it a steady stream.
Now that the George has achieved its rezoning ambitions, those shops are beginning to worry. Already at least two businesses on Gower Point Road have been refused the usual five-year renewal for their leases. Instead each was offered only a two-year lease. In two years, the George may loom high above Lower Gibsons, and if it is successful, rents are set to climb. The little businesses townspeople love may be pushed away in lieu of big-city franchises willing to pay top dollar for a tourist-attracting location.
In Langdale the development issue is further into the future but to me it seems scarier. If the SCRD bows to pressure from the mansion’s developers, the zoning for the property could be changed much more radically than the George’s. The mansion is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, and the zoning allows only B&Bs. If the investors get their way, the entrance to the Sunshine Coast may one day be inhabited only by the very, very rich.
* For an English version of the site, hit the Google “translate” button. In most browsers it is on the upper right.