Lang Walker’s $600 million Festival Plaza development poised for a major breakthrough
Paul Starick, Chief Reporter, Sunday Mail (SA)
March 21, 2020 9:30pm
Developers of Adelaide’s prized Festival Plaza site are confident of soon obtaining final approvals for the $600 million project, including a 23-storey tower and three-level entertainment/retail complex.
Walker Corporation says it is now working closely with the State Government to “deliver the tower as a priority”, in what would be a breakthrough in an eight-year saga.
Concept drawings released exclusively to the Sunday Mail show just one office tower for the King William Rd site, between Parliament House and the Festival Centre, signalling that Sydney tycoon Lang Walker has shelved plans for a proposed second tower.
Walker Corporation had been at loggerheads with the State Government over the second tower, amid concerns it would excessively crowd the prominent public square.
The concept drawings also show escalators linking the Riverbank footbridge’s southern end to the Plaza, between the Festival Centre and the Adelaide Casino.
These escalators were previously not included in plans, which was understood to be a cost-saving measure for the Government’s Plaza funding share.
Walker Corporation senior development manager Ben Moore said the five-storey, 1560-space, underground carpark’s approvals were complete and, as part of the construction, a tower crane was now operating on the site.
“With all the carpark approvals now in place, we’re working closely with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and Renewal SA to obtain final tower approvals that will allow us to deliver the tower as a priority,” he said.
“The basement slab is currently being constructed and two more tower cranes will be installed in April.”
Mr Moore said the Plaza’s first component, including reopening Station Rd next to the Casino, would be finished later this year, while the carpark and other Plaza stages would be complete by the middle of next year.
“We’re very optimistic we’ll obtain the approvals we need shortly to deliver the tower and Plaza,” he said.
“The tower will be an A-grade, five-star, green-star office space and is expected to attract local, interstate and global blue-chip organisations.
“We expect to announce about half the tenants by mid-year.”
The Advertiser this month revealed the long-awaited Plaza carpark would not be ready in time for Adelaide Casino’s $330 million expansion opening in October, as had been expected, despite Casino operator SkyCity’s deal to lease 750 spaces.
Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Minister Stephan Knoll said the Government would “continue to work closely with all key stakeholders to make the Festival Plaza project a reality”.
“I welcome the progress made at the site, and while it’s disappointing that the carpark won’t be completed on time, we’ll work to ensure that the contractors meet the timing obligations on the Plaza and tower,” said Mr Knoll, also the Planning Minister.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure the design meets the needs of everyone who will use it with changes to improve the experience, including escalators, shaded areas and an altered water feature.
“Once complete, this will be a world-class public and events space that will benefit all South Australians.”