Australian millionaire Greg Coffey has contracted an 85-strong army of workers to transform his estate on the isle of Jura into a golfer’s paradise.
The workforce equates to half the island’s 190 population, with 20 tasked with creating a world class golf course and the remaining 65 with renovating Jura House and old farm buildings, on Coffey’s 12,000 acre Ardfin Estate, into luxury accommodation.
Former top financial trader Coffey, 45, known as the Wizard of Oz in City circles, retired with an estimated £430 million fortune four years ago.
Now an undisclosed slice of his wealth – rumoured to be £50m – is being ploughed into the biggest investment Jura has seen.
Andy McCallum, who runs Jura’s only hotel, said the development was good news for the island economy and added: “No other person would have invested what Greg Coffey is investing in this island. There are probably more people up there than at Craighouse [the island’s main village], it’s almost a 50 per cent population increase for two years.”
He said it was still unknown whether the development would be open to the public and added: “I don’t think anyone knows, they have used the word ‘fluid’ a lot, they are unsure what the final set-up is going to be.”
Chris Lamb, who runs Jura’s community store, said trade was good, with the contractors and workers using the shop regularly.
Willie MacDonald, Ardfin estate manager, said no decisions over the future use of the renovated buildings or the golf course, which has been designed by top Sydney architect Bob Harrison, had been made. He added: “We are just concentrating on finishing it, just concentrating on getting the work done, to go from there. With projects of this scale you can’t predict too much.”
Work on the golf course will be completed in October.
Greg Coffey visits regularly to check on the progress and Mr MacDonald said: “There is a major renovation of Jura House and the other buildings, they are working on them at the moment.”
No finishing date has been set for the building work, which began last October. Mr MacDonald said: “Lots of estates are run down, you need massive amounts of investment, this will put the estate back to what it was when it was constructed in 1837.”
George Orwell wrote his novel 1984 on the island.