When Greg Norman backed a $750 million golf resort for the coastal town of Port Hughes, many believed it would put the Yorke Peninsula on the map.
The Dunes development was to feature 2000 homes and a resort style hotel abutting an 18-hole PGA standard golf course designed by the Great White Shark. But the future of the project is in doubt with the developers going into receivership during the week with debts of $13 million, just 100 blocks of land sold and the championship golf course incomplete.
Now investors, contractors and the community are left wondering where it all went wrong. Port Hughes resident Barry Schulz said the warning signs were there from the beginning; the development was too large and ambitious for the coastal Yorke Peninsula town. "It was the wrong project at the wrong time in the wrong place," the long-term resident said.
"At the time, we were in the middle of a drought. There was no water available for it, and here's this approval for this huge unnecessary golf course."
Others blame the global financial crisis and sluggish consumer sentiment. Auditors have confirmed the developer, Irishman Peter Butterly, was struggling with more than a $1 million dollars in land tax debt while receiver Ferrier Hodgson revealed late in the week the development owed about $9 million to banks and about $2 million to trade debtors and the Australian Tax Office.
"There's a significant amount of money that's gone into this project," Ferrier Hodgson partner David Kidman said. "This development was always planned to take many years, it's just hit a little speed bump."
About 60 homes have been built or are under construction at The Dunes. The first nine holes of the golf course opened to players in June 2011.
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