The first time the idea for a Shell Cove marina was made public Bob Hawke was the Prime Minister of Australia.
It has been a mammoth undertaking with stop-starts along the way, and plenty of naysayers, but finally the controversial development is near ready for the community to enjoy.
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba remembers trying to raise a family when the idea was tossed around for a new waterfront community that would take in part of the beach, part of the existing golf course and cover an old tip.
"In the 1980s there was a downturn in steelmaking in the Illawarra and many of those blue collar workers came from Shellharbour," Cr Saliba said on Wednesday.
"The council at the time wanted to create a project that would create jobs for those people and for others to come."
The rubbish was removed, the golf course upgraded and people came around to the idea a marina could be a beautiful thing.
"Almost 90 per cent of people who have worked on this project have been locals from within the region, and of course the job creation that is going to be here through hospitality and tourism and food and beverage," Cr Saliba said.
"It's a good thing it's opening up at this time because it means locals will have the opportunity to come down here and appreciate what we have before visitors from outside of the area will."
Nigel Edgar of Frasers Property Australia - the developers behind the project - said his company likes to work on "regionally significant projects" and creating places "where people want to belong".
Central Park in inner-city Sydney is one of their creations, along with projects in Edmondson Park, Blacktown and Macquarie Park (to name a few).
"This Shell Cove development is probably the largest regional development happening in NSW today," he told the Mercury.
"We've still got another five years work at least.
"There's over 800 dwellings that need to be delivered, there's the boat maintenance facility which will be adjacent to the boat ramp (still to be designed and constructed), there's a whole series of build work which still has to happen, and we've still got 600 dwellings to sell."
The boat harbour has a catchment of 3.45 square kilometres, larger than Darling Harbour, with the water body 12 hectares in area coupled with a picturesque boardwalk wrapping the harbour's perimeter.
Key features include a 470-metre long breakwater and 280-metre groyne, both with future pedestrian access, as well as floating pontoons and marina services.
At capacity, the marina will hold 270 boats with direct access to the Tasman Sea.
Additional features to be completed also include a 117-room hotel run by Oscars Hotel Group, marina services centre, library and community centre.