Over the years, we’ve seen many grand schemes for the city come and go. A casino on Pig Island, a hotel and apartment blocks near the council chambers, another hotel at the Riverhaven site, the Egans Lane redevelopment, the Stewart Place overhaul, the botanic gardens…
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We routinely see artists’ impressions, there’s a frisson of excitement, and then … nothing.
This time it might just be different.
Johny Vynes has gone into considerable detail to set out his vision for the Nowra riverfront. The champion wakeboarder is intimately familiar with the river. As he sees it, the river has great potential as a destination in its own right and is more than a pleasant sight that flashes past on the way to somewhere else.
His plan is big and it is bold, not surprising from someone used to taking risks and seeking out adventure.
He envisages a 10-storey commercial and residential precinct on the southern side of the river from the old sailing club site east of the bridge to Shoalhaven Street to the west.
That he has been formulating the plan for the past 15 years, and working on the details with Shoalhaven City Council for the past 18 months indicates this is probably more than a thought bubble sketched out on draftsmen’s paper.
He says he has backing for the $100 million plus proposal and that it is now at a workable stage.
For development-starved Nowra, which has languished in a kind of limbo while plans for the new bridge have been finalised, Vynes’ vision has been well received.
On social media, the reactions have been enthusiastic. Shoalhaven City Council, while cautioning there is still much to do before the plan can come to fruition, is also keen.
Nowra could certainly do with a project of this magnitude, something that would transform the face our city presents to the world, an attraction that would encourage people to stop rather than just refuel and move on.
With big new subdivisions on the horizon and a growing population, a quality commercial precinct might just stem the escape spending that has dogged the local economy for years. Imagine a future in which we didn’t feel compelled to spend our money elsewhere because there is limited consumer choice here.
It is time we moved ahead as a city.
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