WITH the global financial crisis behind them, central Queensland seaside suburbs Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water are back in the development game and poised for a luxurious transformation.
The two neighbouring suburbs, 125km south of Gladstone, were the worst affected in the region during the economic downturn but are now making a turnaround, according to Gladstone Regional Council deputy mayor Matt Burnett.
Cr Burnett, who is also a representative for Gladstone Area Promotion and Development, said people had stopped taking holidays when money was tight and this hit the tourism-dependant area hard.
But occupancy rates in the recent September school holidays were "at their best for some time", reaching 100 per cent capacity at most accommodations.
"Confidence has come back to Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water," Cr Burnett said.
"We've got developments that were fallen-over and an eyesore, which have now gained new life."
He is talking about Lagoons 1770 Resort & Spa, a luxury 111-unit project where construction was halted in 2008 after the builders went into liquidation.
The project was restarted this year and is due for completion by the end of 2014.
Lagoons @ 1770 Pty Ltd project manager Gary Johnstone said it was the first major development to "come back on stream" in Agnes Water since the GFC.
"Agnes Water was pretty much black-listed (and) being a tourism area there were a lot of developments ready to go," he said.
"With Lagoons recommencing, it will be the start to getting Agnes Water back on the map."
The apartments, just-listed and selling off the plan, are priced from $187,433 to $318,600 and include options with a "swim-out" pontoon where the lagoon-style pool of the project's namesake is literally on the doorstep.
"It's a prime market for self-managed super funds and first-time investors," Mr Johnstone said.
"You can put it into a cashflow positive position and the taxation depreciation benefits are enormous with these units."
With a day spa, restaurant, kid's club and conference room, Mr Johnstone said there was nothing like Lagoons 1770 in Central Queensland.
Lagoons 1770 Resort and Spa. Artist impression
Established estates have also received new life as investors from the southern states search for alternatives to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and workers in the nearby resource sectors fast-accumulate wealth.
Harcourts Agnes Water / 1770 principal Gordon Christian predicted luxury eco-friendly estate Sunrise at 1770 would "take off" in the next five years.
"(The site has) access to six pristine beaches, all surrounded by conservation parks and protected turtle breeding habitats," Mr Christian said.
"Everybody had forgot about something really special we've got here but we're starting to get some really good investment from the people who have gotten rich off the resources.
"A number of families have made Agnes Water their home with partners working and living on Curtis Island on the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) projects."
Sunrise at 1770 is selling land from $217,000 to $495,000 and homes from $615,000 to $2 million.
One property currently on the market is a brand new four-bedroom, three-bathroom home on 1500sq m at 71 Springs Rd, Agnes Water.
71 Springs Rd, Agnes Water — Sunrise at 1770
It has views of the beach but not neighbours and is listed for offers over $1.75 million.
A similar home at 5 Springs Rd was built in 2009 at the height of the GFC for $2.3 million and is now listed for offers over $1.5 million.
5 Springs Rd, Agnes Water — Sunrise at 1770
Dan Murphy, director of developer 1770 Group, also said he predicted good things for Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water in coming years.
"It will come into its own in the next 12 months or so, I believe" he said.
"I'm doing some stuff in Brisbane and it's going absolutely ballistic.
"There's always a bit of a lag between the cities and the regions."
1770 Group is currently working on 50 new houses across three subdivisions, a display village and a high school.
Mr Murphy said the 2015 opening of Discovery Christian College, the first high school in the area, would also be a turning point.
He said a 10-year advertising campaign for the area aimed to make people aware of the community and attract more families.
"We want to build the area as a tourist destination … (and) we'd love to see more residents," he said.
"People can raise their children and not have them bombarded with everything from the city. They can enjoy the outdoors and not be crammed in front of the computer all day but actually enjoy life."
Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water are an hour and a half's drive from Bundaberg, where direct flights run from Brisbane all day.
A commercial airport at Agnes Water is also in the early stages of planning.