07/11/2021 | Rob Lucas MLC | More Jobs | Better Services

Adelaide’s answer to the iconic Southbank promenades in Melbourne and Brisbane – where tens of thousands of locals and tourists flock each year to enjoy popular dining, strolling and retail shopping – is a step closer with the high-profile Festival Plaza public realm development to open in time for the city’s ‘Mad March’ festivities.

Linking Parliament House and the Adelaide Festival Theatre on King William Road, the first and biggest stage of the new open-air public realm has been accelerated to capitalise on the influx of local families and visitors descending on the CBD for the Adelaide Festival, Fringe, WOMAD and Writers’ Week.  

The visionary precinct - part of the $663 million Festival Plaza development in partnership with Australia’s largest privately-owned development company Walker Corporation - will feature a large interactive water feature, refurbished artworks from the original Hajek Plaza, establishing trees, and a series of 4.8m-high architecturally-designed arbours.  

The open-air plaza will enable people to walk freely through the precinct from North Terrace, King William Road, Station Road, the Riverbank footbridge and Elder Park, which will also be a significant advantage for sports fans on their way to and from Adelaide Oval.

Treasurer Rob Lucas welcomed the next stage in the exciting Riverbank development (bounded by Morphett Rd, King William Rd, North Tce and the River Torrens), which is scheduled to coincide with the reopening of the refurbished Adelaide Festival Theatre, planned for February next year.  

This is a once-in-a-generation development that will breathe new life into one of the most important parts of our city,” said Mr Lucas.

“Adelaide is already the most liveable city in the nation – the third most liveable city in the world – and by further activating the southern banks of the River Torrens, we will create a world-class cultural, arts and entertainment precinct that can be enjoyed for generations to come.  

“The Riverbank development including the Festival Plaza, SkyCity, Intercontinental, Adelaide Convention Centre and Railway Station, will be transformed with approximately 35 restaurants, cafes and bars, retail shopping and will also be the ideal location to host arts/entertainment events, like the Spiegeltent, for example.

“In the short-term, the revitalised public realm will be ready for families and tourists who want to come into the city to enjoy all that ‘Mad March’ has to offer - the Adelaide Festival, Fringe, Writers’ Week and WOMAD - and we will activate the area with food trucks and roving entertainers.”

The public realm will open up approximately 8,600m2 of public space, the equivalent of about 20 basketball courts.

Further stages of the public realm will be completed over time and, when complete, provide 16,500 m2 of renewed open, walkable space between the Adelaide Festival Theatre, Dunstan Playhouse, Parliament House, historic Adelaide Railway Station, SkyCity Adelaide Casino and the Riverbank footbridge.

The entire Festival Plaza redevelopment, which will see Walker Corporation contribute $450m and the State Government $213m, will also include a completely redesigned Station Road as well as Walker’s new three-storey retail complex and a 27-29 storey, 5 Star Green Star office building known as Festival Tower.

Walker’s five-level underground Festival Car Park and SkyCity Adelaide’s casino expansion, in addition to Adelaide Railway Station’s dramatic new northern entrance, also form part of the broader redevelopment of the precinct and have now been open to the public for several months.  

Mr Lucas said the State Government and Walker Corporation had agreed to revised commercial terms this week to guarantee certainty around delivery of the development.  

Deficiencies in the original agreement signed by the Labor government in 2016 have led to years of ongoing disagreements and significant delays in the delivery of the project. In fact, the Office Tower was originally anticipated to have been finalised 2 years ago in 2019.

Some of these deficiencies in the original agreement included not ensuring the State had an explicit right to occupy critical areas of the car park or the power to enforce timeframes and delivery.

The Walker Corporation also argued that the original agreement impacted their ability to secure long-term tenants and financing.

The benefits to the State from the new agreement include:

  • Ensures completion of the Office Tower and retail complex by no later than June 2026 although Walker are planning on completing the Office Tower by about the end of 2023
  • Ensures completion of the largest part of Festival Plaza public realm by January 2022
  • Secures $25 million of additional value for the State through ongoing financial contributions and increased developer funding of the public realm

The State has extended the lease terms for the carpark, office tower and retail complex from approximately 68 years to up to 99 years subject to Walker Corporation meeting program dates. It has also agreed to grant an additional lease over the airspace above the planned 3-storey retail area and provide a mechanism to allow Walker to request development rights to build a second tower at some stage over the proposed and extended lease term.

“While we have received no development application for a second tower, the Marshall Government has made it clear it will not be granting any such approval even if the request was made,” said Mr Lucas.

“The provision for a second tower merely allows Walker to make a request in the future, if they so choose, and it will be up to a future Government – Labor or Liberal – to consider at that time. Further, additional development cannot occur without the rigorous assessment and approval of the State Planning Commission.”

The State has also agreed to allow Walker Corporation to seek planning approval for an extra 6000m2 of office space in the office tower.

Construction of the Office tower at Festival Plaza has now commenced (cranes will go up early in the New Year) with the entire redevelopment expected to support approximately 800 full-time equivalent jobs each year over the 2-year construction period.

Public realm (Stage 1) features:

  • Interactive water feature: approximately 8.5m wide x 20m long, with misting and pooling features to create a micro-climate/cooling environment, especially in Summer
  • Refurbished artworks
    • Vertical Variation, artist Bert Flugelman
    • Tetrahedra, artist Bert Flugelman
    • Kaurna Meyunna, Kaurna Yerta Tampendi, artist Tony Rosella
    • Sundial, artist Owen Broughton
  • Shade protection
    • 6 arbours 4.8m high x 11m wide
    • (A further 10 arbours will be installed on completion of the Plaza)
    • 6 additional shade umbrellas will be moved throughout the Plaza
    • Establishing trees