Plans revealed for Cottesloe Beach development

A design concept for the Cottesloe beach redevelopment.
A design concept for the Cottesloe beach redevelopment.

Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, whose net worth reached $10 billion this week for the first time, has embarke­d on an unprecedented spending spree — on iconic waterfront properties, a new private mansion and countless charitable ventures — that will define his legacy and leave his mark on Perth.

Not since Alan Bond in the freewheeling 1980s has an entrepreneur cast such an influence over the West Australian capital.

Forrest, who has never done anything by halves, has unveile­d plans to turn the city’s most famous beach, Cottesloe, into a version of Sydney’s Bondi, with high-class restaurants, terraced­ bars and beachfront swimming pools to replace the run-down Indiana Tea House he bought earlier this year.

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The Indiana, which was built in the 1990s, made national headlines last year when the former operat­ors locked the site’s toilets, forcing the local council to install unsightly portaloos at one of the city’s premier tourism sites.

One of the four Forrest-backed design concepts for Cottesloe won the support of Premier Mark McGowan this week, but locals have long been opposed to development in the genteel suburb.

Forrest, a Cottesloe resident himself, will need to draw on his famed salesmanship to win approv­al. It also emerged this week that he has bought the Old Swan Brewery building on the Swan River, with plans to move his Minderoo Group investment arm and his Minderoo Foundation philanthropic body to the historic building.

Forrest bought the property for an undisclosed sum from Melbourne billionaire Daniel Besen, who had owned it since 2006. The site, which had not been used as a brewery since the 1960s, now has 28 residential apartments, plus offices and restaurants. In addition to these high-profile acquisitions, Mr Forrest has been quietly buying up commercial property across Perth and WA at a rapid rate.

These include a caravan park at Exmouth near the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef, where he is planning an eco-resort, and the Spicers Paper site in Fremantle, with the aim of building a 130-room hotel. In March, Minderoo Group also emerged as the biggest investor in a $450 million logistics park near Perth Airport.

The group’s portfolio includes extensive agribusiness interests, covering pastoral operations in the state’s north and the Harvey Beef abattoir in the southwest. Most recently it announced plans to build an oyster farm off the coast of Carnarvon, 900km north of Perth.

Forrest’s wealth is being boosted by an extraordinary surge in the value of iron ore.

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