On the eastern shore of Hobart, property developer Moon-bae Kim has big plans for a tranquil patch of bushland close to his family home.
He hopes to transform the site into Tasmania’s own Korean village, housing a residential complex, a language school as well as cultural and recreational facilities.
“This project won’t just be for the Korean community or just for Asian people,” he says.
“It will be a place where anyone can come together so that it becomes a cultural place.”
The 158-hectare development, called Paranville, will eventually be home to around 2,000 residents.
The $900 million project in the suburb of Rokeby was given planning approval more than two years ago with 10 out of 11 local councillors voting in favour of the precinct.
Clarence City Mayor Doug Chipman says the project could hold many benefits for the local community.
“This proposal is quite massive in terms of a development proposal,” he says.
“It involves 327 houses and hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a great opportunity for jobs, not just in construction but ongoing.”
Trade with Asia is an increasingly important part of the state’s economy, but it’s also the state with the fewest residents with Asian language skills.
A government White Paper examining Tasmania’s place in the Asian Century, released last year, found the state was the furthest from reaching its trade potential with the continent.
Mr Chipman believes Paranville could help Tasmania build closer links with Asia.
“Tasmania has missed out on the migration to Australia as a whole, but [the state] has a huge amount to offer and projects such as this, I think, will start to turn the tide, and see more migrants coming.”
Paranville is being marketed to investors in South Korea, China and Japan, as well as Australia.
Clarence City councillor Richard James voted against the development. He is concerned it could become what he calls a cultural enclave, and he says there are other local residents who share his views.
“When I actually voted against it, I didn’t foresee how it could blend in with the community, how it could be an integrated development within the community.”
Developer Moon-bae Kim is not concerned by these fears. He imagines a place where cultures are shared, not isolated.
“If Tasmania was to block a project like this, there are those who would say it’s cutting itself in a way that they’re stopping economic development at all.”
Construction is expected to commence at the site by the end of the year.