Councillor Warren Steel has always been an ideas man, but this one is his biggest yet.
At the November meeting of Council, he asked for a feasibility study be undertaken for the possibilities of developing Chapman Oval into a five star, five storey hotel and moving all the sporting bodies who use the oval out to a new multipurpose sporting playing area west of Gainsborough.
“We desperately need another hotel with conference facilities,” says Cllr Steel, who sits on the Destination Kiama Advisory Board.
“This is the ideal spot for it, and Council already owns the land.”
The idea came to him out of the blue, and the more he has thought about it and talked about it with people the more he has become convinced it will be a win:win solution.
“At the moment it is very underutilised, used only during the hockey season and for holiday camping,” he says.
“Yet it is in an amazing location, with none of the access or loss of view issues associated with right in town.”
He envisages Council coming up with a design for the site (close to 2 acres), perhaps through a competition, and having the DA approved. One of the stipulations would be to have a conference room that could cater for 300 to 350.
“Once that is done we could put it on the market for a developer to buy and build.
“That way we could make sure we got what we wanted on the site, and the developer could take it from there.”
As a former real estate agent, he predicts there would be great interest in the project, given its location and proximity to Sydney.
“The site is already worth millions, but if we offer it with an approved design we could be looking at $15-$20 million.”
That is where the second part of his big idea comes in.
He believes the money raised from selling the reserve with the approved DA could be used to fund the development of a sports stadium, similar to that at Croom, to upgrade facilities in the area.
“We could have a proper hockey field, track and field facities and more,” says Cllr Steel.
While the site itself is not mentioned in the Tourism Opportunity Plan, which has been drawn up to guide the development of tourism in the Municipality, the need for more hotel accommodation has been flagged.
“I know this has come out of left field, but I think it is something that could have great benefits for tourism and our sporting community.
“I really can’t see any downside to it at all.”
The feasibility study will be undertaken by the Director of Engineering and Works, who will report back to Council.