The West

Aqua villas finally sold

The remaining villas in the Aqua Resort - one of the high-profile victims of the South West property bubble - have been purchased by West Perth company Milford Management.

The luxury resort on the shores of Geographe Bay in Busselton was financed by a syndicate of 20 investors, including prominent mining industry and business figures. It was developed by Ibex Capital.

SW property recovers

Milford Management, controlled by directors Michael Lurie and Eileen Newby, bought the remaining 33 villas in the receivership sale, giving it a controlling stake in the 41 villa resort.

The price was not disclosed.

Originally budgeted at $34 million when it was promoted to investors in 2006 and 2007, the total project cost climbed to more than $40 million by the time it opened in 2010.

After Ibex was unable to reach a deal with Westpac subsidiary St George Bank on refinancing in 2011, the bank put the development syndicate into receivership, overseen by PPB Advisory.

Aqua Resort's 34 single-storey villas and seven two-storey beachfront villas were built on a 3.5ha site with peppermint trees and landscaped gardens that stretch from Bussell Highway to the beach.

The resort had a 25m beachfront pool, tennis court, gym, and a spa and steam room. The development was pitched at WA's tourism and investment markets.

It was completed just before the global financial crisis which triggered a plunge in property prices in the South West.

In early 2008 pre-sales, four of the two-storey beachfront villas sold for an average of $2.8 million while the single-storey villas were priced at $1 million to $1.5 million. A year ago, they were advertised for sale at prices from $530,000.

When the resort opened in 2010, 11 villas were unsold. These were being marketed by Busselton firm Hanson Property, which, with Savills, negotiated the sale of the 33 villas to Milford Management. The sale is expected to be finalised this month.

The West Australian

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