With a host of new restaurants and the Mooloolaba Yacht Club’s new club room now open, plus a plethora of activities planned for the holidays, The Wharf Mooloolaba is once again thriving.
It is a vision Matthew Evans and Dirk Long of development company Evans Long have held for the precinct and have spent the past 18 months bringing to life.
The Evans family has a long history with the site. The formerly family-owned construction company Evans Harch built the precinct for the original developers.
It was completed in 1989 and quickly became a hotspot for people of all ages to flock to for a day of fun in the sun. But over the decades, The Wharf had fallen into disrepair. Like Mr Evans, Mr Long also has a lengthy association with The Wharf, but from a more recreational perspective.
“I moved up the Coast seven years ago from Brisbane and we’ve always looked at The Wharf,” Mr Long recalls.
“When [Evans Long] were approached by Merlin Entertainment to take it over, we knew there was so much potential for it to be revitalised and brought back to, and beyond, its former glory.”
While Merlin retained ownership of Sea Life Mooloolaba, Mr Evans and Mr Long began to bring their vision of a vibrant, food and entertainment destination to life.
“We found there was a misconception that it was mainly a tourism destination,’’ Mr Long tells My Weekly Preview.
“We quickly found that the majority of it is local foot traffic and [the precinct] is mostly utilised by people from the Sunshine Coast, and they wanted to see The Wharf they knew brought back to life.”
The first stage was to engage with the existing traders to see who would be prepared to remain and invest. In the second stage, they began to scout for new talent for the backbone of a fresh, new food destination at The Wharf and found a number of highly experienced and professional business owners were already watching the precinct with interest.
The Melbourne-based owners of The Dock Mooloolaba were quick to see the potential of the waterfront destination and quickly snapped up a venue.
In another coup for the precinct, renowned local chef Tony Kelly recently opened two distinctly different and vibrant takeaway offerings – Saltwater and Rice Boi.
These food offerings, along with Chances, which opened earlier this year, have breathed new life into the precinct.
Work will cease during the holidays, but will resume with stage three in 2018.
“We will continue refurbishing the remaining shops and introduce a Hamptons-style paint colour concept throughout the precinct and continue to carry out renovation works and roof works where needed,” Mr Long says.
“There is still plenty of room for new traders. The vision in my mind is for a few more food offerings to add to the eclectic array we have already and to attract some boutiques and gift shops that are good for browsing through and service tenants.”
While Mr Long says the $10 million refurbishment will continue until September, he is ecstatic to see the completed work has boosted the profile of the precinct, with more families venturing down to The Wharf to check it all out.
“It was just wonderful to see and the feedback and support from the Coast community appears to be there.”