Crypto to fund $300M island revival

Katie McDonaldSeptember 11, 2018
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A tropical paradise redevelopment within Australia’s heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is set to be the world’s largest cryptocurrency-backed property deal.

The proposed $300 million revival of Great Keppel Island will be funded by crypto tokenisation, with a white paper (similar to a prospectus) to be released in the coming days.

Called a Security Token Offering, much like an Initial Public Offering, investors will be invited to purchase Great Keppel Island Tokens (GKI) for a stake in the resort.

These tokens will fund the redevelopment and will be tradeable on existing crypto exchanges.

But unlike other cryptos, the GKI tokens will be backed by the value of the resort, which Tower Holdings, the majority owner of the island, says will be worth more than $3 billion once complete.

The Queensland government has already approved Tower Holdings’ revamp plans, which includes a beachfront resort, 750 luxury villas, 300 premium apartments, 250 Marina pens, a 9,000 square metre retail and hospitality precinct, as well as a commercial airstrip that will service both domestic and international flights.

Former pro golfer Greg Norman, nicknamed the ‘Great White Shark’ during the eighties for his aggressive playing style, is circling in on the redevelopment as the face of the investment campaign and the designer of the island’s 18-hole golf course.

In addition, the Queensland government has announced it will inject $25 million into connecting power and water to the mainland, which is about 12 kilometres away from the island.  

Tower Holdings CEO Anthony Aiossa said the Great Keppel Island project was the largest development approval to be obtained on the Great Barrier Reef.

“It’s set to establish a new benchmark within the Australian tourism industry, especially with its major focus on environmentally friendly tourism initiatives,” Aiossa said.

“In recent years the product offering of many tourism destinations within Australia and the Great Barrier Reef has not kept pace with the significant new tourism development in other beach holiday locations such as Bali, Fiji, Thailand and Hawaii, which has seen a major outflow of Australian tourists to these locations.

“The Great Keppel Island project will offer a brand new fully integrated resort with 17 white sandy beaches, a spectacular beachfront hotel, new marina, retail village and world-class golf course all on the one island with easy direct air access from Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns.”   

If all goes to plan, construction of the resort will start in 2019, with completion estimated to be within five years.

Alternative funding

Tower Holdings previously failed to get buy-in from investors to fund its island vision despite receiving planning approvals.

The organisation purchased the island’s resort in 2006, which became known in the 90s as a top party destination, famous for its slogan “Get Wrecked on Keppel”.

In 2008 the resort shut its doors, and the island has sat dormant ever since.

Tower Holdings reportedly listed the island for sale in May this year with a $20-$25 million price tag.

That plan was soon abandoned in favour of resurrecting its tourism destination ambitions through a new means; a crypto consortium.

It’s not the first time the property community has explored digital currency.

Startup business Australian Commercial Real Estate has developed a new proptech platform that it says will allow investors to use crypto to buy fractional ownership in Australian real estate.

Fellow Australian, Buildsort, is another crypto-focused property initiative currently under development, with plans to streamline the construction sector’s supply chain, by speeding up the approvals process and preventing fraud via blockchain.

On the other side of the world Aspen Digital is offering investors ownership in its Colorado property via a crypto token sale on Indiegogo.

The company is selling Aspen Coins that will allow purchasers to gain a fragmented equity ownership stake in its St Regis luxury ski resort in Aspen.

Similarly, Noah Ark Technologies is developing a crypto-powered resort in the Philippines.

Real estate agents and homeowners have also started listing and selling property with digital currency too.

This includes Paris Hilton’s dad, Rick Hilton, who put his trust in crypto earlier this year by listing an 11-bedroom mansion in Rome on Propy.com, a global property store and decentralised title registry.  

Also making headlines in 2018 was Dubai-based Aston Plaze & Residences, which reportedly  sold 50 apartments to Bitcoin owners in February.

It seems crypto could well be on its way to becoming the norm in property exchanges.

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