Lake Luxury: Johnson Property Group proposes $720m hotel, apartments plan for Trinity Point

Newcastle Herald | Max McKinney | 1 September 2021

Developer Keith Johnson believes his latest plan for Trinity Point – a $720 million hotel and apartment development – could “do for Lake Macquarie what the Opera House did for Sydney”.

The veteran developer, who has been working to transform the Morisset Park precinct in southern Lake Macquarie for more than 20 years, has submitted a scoping report to the NSW Department of Planning to build a 220-room hotel and 218 residential apartments.

The development features six hill-shaped buildings reaching eight storeys at their peak that would be covered in greenery to blend in with both the natural and landscaped surrounds.

A huge infinity pool would be built at ground level overlooking Trinity Point marina while the buildings would also feature a 500-seat function centre and two restaurants.

The proposal would replace Johnson Property Group’s approved plans for a 65-room hotel and 150 serviced apartments.

The project is being promoted as the largest private redevelopment outside Sydney. If it proceeds, it is predicted to create more than 400 jobs during construction and an additional 200 ongoing operational roles.

Mr Johnson, Johnson Property Group’s managing director, said he recruited Australian firm Koichi Takada Architects to design the “iconic and environmentally driven tourism hub”.

He said the plans set a new benchmark for the region and if approved, the development would “do for Lake Macquarie what the Opera House did for Sydney”.

“We are excited to announce the third phase of our Trinity Point project, which will build on the success and popularity of the already established restaurant, marina and housing estate,” he told the Newcastle Herald.

“The luxury hotel and apartments will build on the current offering to create a true world-class tourism and holiday destination.”

Mr Johnson said the revised hotel and apartment plans were the result of unprecedented interest in the temporary lakeside restaurant – 8 at Trinity – and the broader Trinity Point estate.

“We’re doing an average of over 1000 people a day [at the restaurant] and that’s not even with weddings or functions,” he said.

“In the new plan, we’re going to have two restaurants and a function centre.

“We’re doing it all under the one-roof because hotel operators are demanding that to be five-star.

“We’re doing what the site was zoned for. There’s a real need for it. We’re listening to the market and we’re accommodating for it.”

Mr Johnson, who has brought multiple residential estates to life in the Hunter and particularly Lake Macquarie, said the Trinity Point hotel and apartment project was the “jewel in the crown” of his development career.

He said he was financially backing the revised development but there were “three or four opportunities” for investors to become involved.

It will require amendments to Local Environmental Plan, including a rezoning to permit the residential units and to enable the building heights of up to 36 metres.

Despite certain aspects of Trinity Point attracting opposition in the past, Mr Johnson said he expected locals and the broader community to embrace the plan.

“They will love it,” he said.

“Locals have already made Trinity their meeting place and they’ll really feel ownership.

“Before COVID, we had people coming from Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, Central Coast, Sydney, all over.”

A planned extension of the existing marina and installation of an approved helipad would proceed in-line with the development’s construction, Mr Johnson said.

If approved, the project would take two to three years to construct.

“We hope to get it approved in the first quarter of next year,” Mr Johnson said.

“We’re raring to go.

“When COVID isn’t [impacting operations], the restaurant is packed out.

“We’ve already employed 70 people and as soon as we open again, we’ll be trying to get some more staff.”

The scoping report will be considered by the NSW Department of Planning before a concept development application is lodged. The project will be assessed as State Significant Development.

 

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