SSS Strawberries has revealed its vision to revitalise the Bundaberg CBD, transforming a vacant high-rise into SSS Tower featuring student accommodation and eateries.
The company recently purchased the building, commonly known as the whale building, and is expected to lodge a development application with Council in coming months.
The entire SSS Strawberry family came together to announce their vision for the building in the CBD this morning.
The bold plans include up to 80 international and domestic university students living in the heart of the CBD with commercial space on the ground floor.
The second stage includes plans for a three-level carpark for the use of building tenants and the wider community and SSS has further plans for a second high-rise building as part of future stages.
SSS Strawberries spokesperson Victor Dang said the plans were all part of the company’s desire to give back to the Bundaberg Region community.
“[SSS Tower is] one of our biggest plans yet for the time that we’ve been in Bundaberg,” Victor said.
“First of all, we started with agriculture as a farmer and now we are in to this big project.
“So we call it contribution and return back to the community.”
SSS Tower to unlock CBD potential
Victor said the family had worked closely with CQUniversity and town planners to align their vision with the CBD’s growth potential.
“This is going to be mainly for international student accommodation which then gives CQUniversity an opportunity to attract more students to the region.
“And of course more money inflow, more business and of course that in turn increases confidence and interest to the business in town.
“Therefore we see the CBD activities rising. The town’s more vitalised and more modern.”
He said at any given time up to 80 students would be living in the building which has sat vacant for many years.
Victor believes it’s the key to revitalising the CBD.
“That’s our goal, that’s our purpose.
“Together with different stakeholders here today we will make it happen.
“We believe it is going to happen.”
While plans are still in the pipeline and no formal approvals have been granted over the development, Victor said he was hopeful work would start on the building by the end of 2020.
In addition to the student accommodation Victor said there was exciting plans for the ground floor to attract new business to the region.
“Eateries and businesses, we’re going to have different types of businesses to accommodate the town.
“It’s a centre arcade for the town people as well as the tenants that live here.”
Three levels of car parking proposed
He said he hoped the multi-storey parking planned as stage two of the project would address ongoing concerns about CBD parking availability.
“Hopefully that will help to fix some of the problems … and the people that live here are confident that there is available parking.
“It will look modern, a lot of public art work.
“Hopefully it will be big enough that it will be available for the public as well.”
The parking is proposed to be constructed on Woondooma Street.
“That’ll be just behind the building on the other side of the street.
“We’ve got a block that belongs to this building.”
University welcomes proposal
CQUniversity Associate Vice Chancellor Luke Sinclair said the plans were “an absolute game changer” for the region and the university.
He said student accommodation was in demand and would attract more people to the region.
“We’ve got an opportunity to not only keep some more people here in the region but also to attract people from outside the region, outside of Queensland and Australia,” Luke said.
CQUniversity currently offers courses to between 20 and 30 international students however he said this proposal was an opportunity to open more courses.
“It’s really about a catch 22 and building momentum in that space.
“You think about the new hospital as well that’s coming and the programs that, as a university, we would have to put on to support that, there’s another avenue that will help grow this.
“That’s definitely under consideration and you would think it would need to be, you’ve got to create a pipeline of students, you’ve got to think about what are the different areas that they might come in terms of the pre-med to get into it.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic working with the family.
“Their hearts, soul, blood, sweat and tears are in this region and this is about giving back in terms of education and not just agriculture as well.”
Under the proposal the whale mural will not be retained.