Great Keppel Island was famous in the 80s and 90s as an Australian party island paradise. Located at the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, this tropical isle marketed itself as a holiday destination of debauchery for young, single backpackers: “a great place to get wrecked”, as the catchphrase went.
Then, in 2006, the party ended. Sydney-based real estate company Tower Holdings bought Great Keppel’s iconic resort—previously owned by Contiki and Mercure—and shut the place down, while developer Terry Agnew cooked up plans to build a five-star luxury complex in its place. For some 12 years those plans have floundered while the resort sits, dilapidated, falling into ruin.
Now it looks like the Island may finally be reclaiming some of its former glory, thanks to a cryptocurrency consortium which aims to resurrect Great Keppel as a crowdfunded high-tech wonderland.
The consortium has big dreams to build a resort consisting of 750 luxury villas, 300 apartments, a premium retail village, a 250-berth marina, and an 18-hole golf course designed by Greg ‘the Great White Shark’ Norman. There are also plans to install a commercial airstrip in the middle of Great Keppel, for what is being touted as the biggest cryptocurrency-backed property deal—and the biggest island cryptocurrency micro-economy—in the world.
Investors will be able to buy Great Keppel Island Tokens, through a so-called Security Token Offering, in order to fund the $300 million dollar project. GKI tokens will be tradable on existing cryptocurrency exchanges, with the value of the Tokens being influenced by the overall value of the development itself. In this sense, buying GKI tokens is something like buying shares in the resort. Tower Holdings will retain 12 percent of the tokens, while it is expected that the minimum buy-in for investors will be $100,000.
Philippa Ryan, cryptocurrency expert and member of the Standards Australia Blockchain Technical Committee, told ABC that she thinks the unique opportunity will appeal to “the more sophisticated investors who probably have done their research into crypto and are ready to put it into something of bricks and mortar.
"Once it's off and running, the person with the $10,000 investment can sell 5,000 [tokens] for a bit of a profit while the price is going up.”
Anthony Aiossa, Tower Holdings’ chief executive officer, meanwhile told Fairfax that the company has spent a fair chunk of the past decade getting approval for the redevelopment from the local council, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority, and the state and federal governments. Once the approvals were in place, Tower were presented with the idea of the cryptocurrency consortium.
From there it was just a matter of figuring out what that actually meant, exactly.
"We spent many months trying to understand the technology of blockchain itself, and then we tried to research and talk to as many people as possible about its application into the finance world," said Mr Aiossa.
"It's not something that's just been pulled out of thin air. It's a serious new frontier."