Plans for the expansion of the Pavilion Arcade include restaurants and a cafe.
Plans for the expansion of the Pavilion Arcade include restaurants and a cafe. Contributed

Multi-million dollar retail centre expansion

MORE than two years after Tropical Cyclone Debbie devastated it, an Airlie Beach retail centre is completing a $4.3 million expansion as a sign of continued confidence in the Whitsundays.

The Pavilion Arcade property owner Jobern has spent $3 million in repairs and upgrades since the cyclone.

However, a further $1.3 million is now being spent in the final stages of completion of the project.

Jobern's plans include a new 180 sqm restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining areas, a 155 sqm rooftop restaurant and bar featuring vergola roofs, a new 100 sqm café and a day spa.

All the new spaces will offer parkland access and ocean views across the Coral Sea.

Jobern is headed by Josh Thompson, the seasoned developer who created Peppers Coral Coast Resort in the Whitsundays and who played a significant role in the transformation of inner Byron Bay more than 20 years ago.

Mr Thompson said the planned upgrade had been on the drawing board for some time, with council approvals granted just a month before the cyclone devastated the region.

Mr Thompson said with the support of tenants and their insurer, the Pavilion Arcade had bounced back well since the cyclone.

The repairs have led to a fresh new look for Pavilion Arcade which has been completely reskinned with the addition of a new awning and façade elements and majority of shops completely redone internally.

The repairs and refurbishment, which took 20 months to complete, forced Jobern to place its original expansion plans onto the backburner.

"Most of the retail areas were a write-off after the cyclone and we had to start from scratch to rebuild them," Mr Thompson said.

"Now that that work is complete, the time is right for us to get on with our original plans.

"We have now added to our original plans with an addition of a 60KW solar array system to help reduce power cost of all the tenants.

"Airlie Beach is back on its feet, the tourists have returned and business is on the rise.

"There has been major expenditure in redoing the major Whitsunday islands so it's starting to return to business as usual."

Existing tenants in Pavilions Arcade include national tenants Rip Curl, Boost Juice and Brighteyes Sunglasses.

"There's a lot of confidence in Airlie Beach at the moment as evidenced by the significant capital expenditure both on the mainland and islands over the last two years both by insurers and property owners," Mr Thompson said.

"We're keen to get on with delivering the next stage of Pavilion Arcade and then opening discussions with potential new tenants."

Given the advance nature of the construction program Jobern expects the work to be completed by end of September.