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  • Tropic Now's comprehensive list of Cairns construction projects

    In this special report, Tropic Now rounds up a list of upcoming construction projects for Cairns. 

    Crystalbrook Collection’s Bailey and Flynn hotels are progressing at an impressive rate, with openings due in October and early 2020 respectively.

    The sight of so many cranes across our skyline in recent times has been a beacon of confidence during a period of flat residential housing construction and softening tourism numbers. But concerns are emerging about a potential jobs cliff once tradies and sub-contractors employed by Prime Construction down their tools at Crystalbrook’s CBD sites.

    But as this special Tropic report shows, there are still plenty of projects to keep construction momentum and optimism alive as the Crystalbrook Collection hotel jobs wind down.

    To really get the economy firing, we also need other developments currently in limbo to get off the ground, from Nova City to State Government infrastructure projects.

    Check our comprehensive list of the Cairns construction pipeline below


    1/ Smithfield Bypass
    What: A single lane road linking the McGregor Road roundabout at Smithfield with the Caravonica intersection to bypass the Smithfield roundabout.
    Investment: $152 million
    Completion date: Late 2020

    2/ Cairns Shipping Development
    What: Dredging of Trinity Inlet to allow vessels over 300m in length to enter Cairns Port, establishment of a new shipping swing basin plus wharf construction works.
    Investment: $127 million
    Completion date: Early 2020

    3/ JCU Cairns Innovation Centre
    What: Three storey education facility at James Cook University’s Smithfield Campus designed to enhance innovation and scientific activities.
    Investment: $30 million
    Completion date: July 2020

    4/ Centre of Contemporary Arts facelift
    What: Redesign of façade and entry at the Abbott Street premises as well as new office and studio spaces, a theatre upgrade and enhanced gallery spaces.
    Investment: $5 million
    Completion date: Late 2019

    5/ Kubirri Aged Care Centre
    What: 42 bed aged care centre at Mossman being built by the Salvation Army.
    Investment: $10.7 million
    Completion date: Late 2020

    6/ Warrina Innisfail
    What: 64-bed high care nursing home in Innisfail
    Investment: $18 million
    Completion date: Mid 2020

    7/ Atherton Hospital redevelopment
    What: Replacement of hundred-year-old facility including the emergency department, operating theatres and a new clinical services building.
    Investment: $70 million
    Completion date: Mid 2020

    8/ Cairns Airport
    What: Upgrade of T2 Domestic Terminal
    Investment: $55 million
    Completion date: Late 2020


    9/ Cairns Convention Centre upgrade
    What: Expansion and refurbishment of the existing centre
    Construction start: May 2020
    Investment: $176 million

    10/ Cairns Central upgrade
    What: A Myer relocation, new Woolworths and fresh food market hall included in the shopping mall’s first major redevelopment in 20 years.
    Investment: $60 million
    Completion date: Late 2020

    11/ Botanica Lifestyle Resort
    What: 196-home over 50s lifestyle resort at Caravonica
    Construction start: Late 2019/Early 2020
    Investment: $90 million

    12/ Captain Cook Highway upgrade
    What: Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch secured a “congestion busting” upgrade of the Captain Cook Highway as part of the Federal Government’s 2019 Budget.
    Construction start: 2020
    Investment: $287.2 million

    13/ Wangetti Trail
    What: 94 km pedestrian and cycling trail from Palm Cove to Port Douglas.
    Construction start: September 2019
    Investment: $36 million

    14/ Cairns South Health Facility
    What: Community health facility at Edmonton, which will also act as a back-up to Cairns Hospital during cyclones or floods.
    Construction start: Late 2019
    Investment: $25 million

    15/ Cairns Regional Council’s capital works program
    What: The 2019 Council budget featured significant spending on roads, bridges, CBD upgrades, water and waste infrastructure, and a range of community, sport, cultural and tourism projects.
    Construction start: 2019-20 financial year
    Investment: $164.7 million


    Paradise Palms re-development
    PPNQ Developments has lodged a DA with Cairns Regional Council for a $330 million project to turn the Kewarra Beach golf course into residential estates, a tourist park, childcare centre and a retirement village. It’s hoping to begin construction in 2020.

    Port Douglas Marina re-development
    A new DA was originally slated for submission to Douglas Shire Council in June 2019, but Crystalbrook Collection's ambitious redevelopment of the Port Douglas marina remains in the design and planning phase.

    CQUniversity campus
    The go-getting uni has talked about plans to expand beyond its current Cairns Square building and into bigger premises of its own in the CBD. Watch this space.

    Ellis Beach Surf Club
    A DA for the $3.5 million relocation of the Ellis Beach Surf Lifesaving Club across the Captain Cook Highway to a block of beachside land has been submitted with Cairns Regional Council.

    Northern Beaches Secondary Catholic College
    Catholic Education has signed an MOU with James Cook University to build a high school at JCU’s Smithfield campus. It’s planning to open to the first students in 2022.


    Nova City
    Here at Tropic we continue to hear "it will go ahead", but Singaporean development giant Aspial remains quiet on its $550 million project, despite final approvals being received in 2018.

    C3 Cairns
    $550 million six-star city resort proposal by Gasparin Group was approved in 2016 but there's no word on when construction might begin.

    Eco Resort Ellis Beach
    Melbourne-based Bellbird Park Developments received federal environment approvals a year ago, but a DA is yet to be submitted to Council.

    Crystalbrook project on Grafton St
    Ghassan Aboud bought the half-hectare site of the former Cairns City Library with frontages to Lake and Grafton Sts back in December 2017 but his plans for the site remain under wraps.



    A range of major projects are either on hold or awaiting Queensland Government support, with city leaders hoping the state election in October 2020 will finally see our fair share of funding flow to the region.

    Cairns University Hospital: Another project hinging on State Government support, with funding for Stage 2 of this $90 million joint project by James Cook Hospital and Cairns Hospital missing from this year’s Budget.

    KUR-World: the State Government’s lack of action to upgrade the Kuranda Range Rd has put this $640 million integrated eco-resort development in jeopardy.

    Tropical North Global Tourism Hub: The State Government’s announcement of its preferred proponent was overdue when Tropic went to print.

    Western Arterial road upgrade: Advance Cairns wants the State to commit $365.5 million to upgrade this grid-locked section of the proposed Cairns Ring Road. So far, we’re only getting a $12 million planning and design study, which will take a staggering five years to complete before construction can even be considered.

    Gallery precinct: Cairns Regional Council wants all three levels of government to contribute equal funding for this $40 million CBD project. Both the State and Federal Governments haven’t come to the party with their $13 million share yet.