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Ready to go: An artist's impression of the planned marina

Construction of Queenstown’s long-delayed $20 million Frankton marina has finally begun.

Lakes Marina Projects (LMP) is creating 187 floating berths, 17 floating sheds, four other structures, a breakwater and a 156-space carpark.

The development follows an agreement with landholder Queenstown’s council.

Mayor Jim Boult says: “This is a huge milestone for this long-awaited project and the wider Queenstown community.

“As a past boatie and the owner of a berth in the ill-fated earlier marina, I’m delighted to see this well-planned development pro-ceed.

“In my view, boat owners district-wide will applaud this development loudly.”

The first stage, comprising 80 to 90 berths and all the other facilities, will be completed in 12 to 18 months.

Work began on site on Monday.

LMP is 90 per cent owned by Iranian-born entrepreneurs, brothers Iraj and Nasser Barabi, from California’s Silicon Valley, and 10 per cent by local boatie Alan Kirker.

Queenstown’s council appointed the company as its preferred developer five years ago, after scuttling another company’s proposal.

LMP trod water while waiting to gain district and regional council resource consents, and lakebed approval from Land Information New Zealand.

Nasser says they never lost faith.

“Alan has been instrumental in helping moving things forward and Iraj has been working hard.

“I just didn’t think it was going to take this many years.”

Nasser believes the resort will benefit from having a messy area by the main entranceway tidied up.

Besides opening up amazing views, he says there’ll be many spin-offs from making Lake Wakatipu more attractive for boaties.

LMP’s leasing the berths, ranging from eight to 18 metres long, for a minimum of about $8000 a year.

Kirker says he’s had enquiries from “all over – we’re talking Hong Kong, England, Switzerland”.

“One Aussie boatie wants a timeframe so he can get his boat built.”

His company’s also leasing floating offices for cafes and marina-compatible businesses.

Nasser says the boardwalk they front on to, running parallel to Sugar Lane and the Frankton Track, will be world-class.

“You’ve never seen anything like it before.”

He believes the marina environment will attract locals wanting to escape the busy downtown.

Nasser and Iraj already own several local properties.

Nasser, who owns Earnslaw Lodge with his wife, also this week saw the completion of a Frankton Flats manufacturing building. It’ll be used by the brothers’ US company, Essai Inc, which services semiconductor and electronic consumer companies.

Meanwhile, most of the marina’s physical works won’t start till late February, after the busy summer holidays.

“We have appreciated the ongoing support from Sugar Lane businesses and residents and commend them for their foresight and commitment,” Kirker says.

Contractor Fulton Hogan is performing the civil works and Bellingham Marine the offshore work.

Kirker, whose father co-instigated the Te Anau marina in the early ’60s, says there’s no concern that strong winds, which destroyed an earlier floating marina, will be a problem.

“It’s all on telescopic piles, and it’s been designed for the westerly and the southerly.”

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