$60m gallery and retreat for former owners of troubled Jewel

A former chicken farm could be turned into an art and sculpture gallery akin to Tasmania’s MONA as part of a $60 million Gold Coast hinterland development plan.

The gallery, based on David Walsh’s ground-breaking Hobart museum, forms part of a large-scale proposal submitted to Gold Coast City Council for a wellness and tourism retreat in Tallebudgera Valley.

Chinese developer Ridong is seeking approval for a six star 98-room resort, plus 113 residential dwellings, a 16-hectare man-made lake and a contemporary European art and sculpture gallery modelled on the Museum of Old and New Art.

The plan includes a three-storey health and wellness centre with a day spa, a waterfront chapel for wedding services, two conference centres and three restaurants.

Ridong is the original developer of the Gold Coast’s Jewel project, but sold its 45 percent share in the development in February.

Uncertainty now surrounds the $1.4 billion three-tower Surfers Paradise project, with workers ordered off the site on Wednesday last week given no explanation about when work might restart.

Owner Yuhu Group later confirmed work has stopped because it is searching for a hotel operator for the central one of the three beachfront towers. The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union alleges it has repeatedly been left in the dark about the future of the site, with some 150 workers already sacked from the project.

Ridong Group’s latest development proposal would require the controversial rezoning of the 47.5 hectare rural Tallebudgera Valley site.

A number of locals have expressed their opposition to the development, which Ridong argues will create economic benefits by tapping into a growing international appetite for health and wellbeing offerings.

The four-storey gallery would be privately operated, with its cultural exhibition space, 100-seat theatre and automotive museum  acting as a “world class” tourism attraction for an area which the developer says “doesn’t currently have an art gallery of such proposed scale”. 

Building would cover less than nine percent of the site, with heights limited to low to medium rise and the hotel reaching a maximum five storeys.

According to The Urban Developer, Ridong Group chair Riyu Li began acquiring parcels of land in Tallebudgera Valley in 2014. The retreat plan covers sites owned by Li on Tallebudgera Connection Road and Tallebudgera Creek Road.

The development is currently in preliminary assessment with the Gold Coast City Council and is not expected to progress before 2019.

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