After more than 16 years, a high-stakes feud between Canberra business heavyweights and numerous planning and bureacratic delays, the first sod has been turned at the $1 billion South Jerrabomberra estate.
The Village Building Co. project will include construction of up to 1250 homes over the next decade on land at Tralee, at the NSW/ACT border opposite Hume industrial estate.
The company has development approval for the first 600 homes, with civil works under way for the first 200 dwellings.
South Jerrabomberra's first residents are expected to move into their new homes in 2021.
Village Building Co.'s Travis Doherty said Wednesday's ceremonial sod turning marked a significant milestone for the project, which he described as the most "challenging and complex" in the group's 31-year history.
The company's founder, Bob Winnel, bought the Tralee site in 2002 with a vision to build 7500 homes.
The ambitious plan sparked a bitter and protracted feud with Canberra airport, which feared the development could hinder its own expansion plans.
The airport, headed by Terry Snow and Stephen Byron, even purchased land in Tralee in a bid to stymie Mr Winnel's plans.
The parties eventually brokered a peace deal in July 2013. The airport surrendered its land holding, and allowed Village Building Co. to proceed with the development. In return, the company agreed to alert prospective South Jerrabomberra buyers to aircraft noise to safeguard the airport from complaints. The homes would also be built with double-glazed windows to mitigate noise impacts.
The company sold blocks of land to 146 people in 2014, before planning and bureaucratic hurdles further delayed a construction start date. The buyers were subsequently offered refunds.
The project's first stage finally won planning approval in August last year, with lots for townhouses and apartments now on the market. Prices range from about $325,000 to $450,000.
On Wednesday, Mr Doherty said he was "pretty overwhelmed with excitement" that construction work was under way.
"This has been a really challenging and complex project for us, the most in our 31-year history," Mr Doherty said.
"A project that is of the magnitude that South Jerrabomberra is, a project that straddles the NSW and ACT border, where you're dealing with multiple jursidictions, multiple levels of government it is inherently complex. But it is what we do and we are getting on with the job."
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council mayor Tim Overall, who joined Mr Doherty at Wednesday's ceremony, said South Jerrabomberra would be a key plank in the wider transformation of the area, which is set to include a new regional sports centre, high school and technology and innovation hub.
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