The Shell Cove marina project has reached another milestone with work starting on the harbour breakwall.
The first one tonne rock was put in place yesterday within the coffer dam in the beach zone.
The final rocks in the breakwall, which will be completed in a later stage, will be up to 30 tonnes each.
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba and Australand's Shell Cove development director Glenn Colquhoun marked the milestone by witnessing the first rocks placed for the breakwater.
Mr Colquhoun said the $150-million first stage of works was being undertaken by Albion Park firm Coastwide Civil and, weather permitting, was on track to be finished by March next year.
Meantime Shellharbour City Council has declined to take up an option to develop the retail square in what will be the middle of the Shell Cove commercial precinct.
The decision was made in confidential session at Tuesday night's ordinary council meeting.
Cr Saliba said as part of the agreement between the council and Shell Cove partner Australand, the council had the first option to develop in the retail precinct, Australand the second.
"We declined because retail is not really our forte and we felt the council should stick with what council does best," she said.
"The other thing is financially we don't feel it is appropriate that at this stage we spend money on a retail site.
"It would be costly for us to develop and we believe it will be in good hands with Australand."
Cr Saliba said the council's decision should not be interpreted as a sign of council lacking confidence in the planned harbour precinct which will feature a 1.5-kilometre promenade and facilities such as a hotel, shops and residential.
"This is absolutely not a sign of a lack of confidence, the council has been very supportive of the master plan to date," Cr Saliba said.
"A decision was required because of an agreement reached way back when contracts were first signed.
"The arrangement is that with any of the commercial areas to be developed the council would have first option.
"The agreement allows council to consider our situation at each stage and whether we want to invest in commercial opportunities down here.
"We may do, just not at this stage."
The whole boat harbour precinct is to be known as The Waterfront, Shell Cove.
Shell Cove commercial manager Kevin James said the land around the boat harbour had long been referred to as the boat harbour platform which sounded "very bland and generic".
Mr James said a review by Australand concluded the same and the name The Waterfront, Shell Cove was agreed to.
"The name captures all the quality elements in a short name - the water, harbour, boardwalks, retail, commercial, tourist and residential," Mr James said.
The first boats are expected to moor in the new harbour - which will have a water surface about 30 per cent larger than Sydney's Darling Harbour - in 2019.