It’s been more than 10 years in the making, but construction work on the controversial Forster Civic Precinct is earmarked to begin in the new year.
Stage one of the project will incorporate MidCoast Council facilities visitor information centre, a two-level library and community facilities, senior’s living, hotel, gymnasium, supermarket, shops and flexible public spaces.
Private developer, Enyoc Pty Ltd will manage the $18 million project – on behalf of MidCoast Council – which is located on a former school site at the corners of Lake, West and Middle streets, Forster.
"MidCoast Council is investing $6 million in the facilities, and Enyoc is providing $6 million to council for development rights over the residual land on the site," corporate and business systems director, Steve Embry said.
“The agreement allows for the residual of the site to be developed by Enyoc for commercial purposes, over several stages, which include facilities such as seniors living apartments, retail shops, supermarket, hotel and a gymnasium.”
The remaining $6 million will be provided by the Federal Government through its National Stronger Regions Fund, announced in 2015.
Federal Member for Lynne, David Gillespie, who is credited with securing $6 million funding for the project, describe the project as game changer for Forster and the wider Great Lakes region.
“It will create 200 direct jobs during the construction phase and a further 200 ongoing jobs on completion,” Dr Gillespie said.
Mr Gillespie recently met with council general manager Adrian Pannucio and Steve Embry to announce the start of construction.
The civic precinct project has progressed over a period of 10 years, with the need for community meeting facilities in Forster's central area becoming apparent.
At around the same time, it was recognised that the Great Lakes library building was an inadequate size – only half the NSW library minimum recommended size for the community it serves, and the visitor information centre was in need of major repairs and refurbishment.
It's planned that the strata subdivision of stage one will occur by December 2019, dividing the council facilities from the residual property, which Enyoc will then develop.
At this stage, MidCoast Council plans to have the facilities completed and ready for opening to the public by September 2020.
More information on the development and history of the Forster Civic Precinct project is available at midcoast.nsw.gov.au/civicprecinct.