It's a pity that there is no serious accommodation for the development of the historic inner harbour as a tourism precinct.
All over the world, the fast growing phenomenon of cultural tourism is being catered for to the the long-term benefit of the communities which with assets such as Port Adelaide with its historic infrastructure and adjacent land.
Check out http://www.mysticseaport.org
as an example of what could have been.
That place started out with one boat, one book and one shed, and is now a huge generator of jobs and income for a region on the US east coast that didn't think it had much going for it. I know for a fact that one of their managers had a look around Port Adelaide recently and couldn't believe his eyes. He was flabbergasted at the tourism potential of the Port. What are you going to do with all this stuff, he asked. Sell it for housing, he was told, and couldn't believe it.
Check out 24th St Pier in New York, the historic docks in London, look at The Rocks in Sydney, Salamanca Place in Hobart - everywhere these old Port precincts are being developed to attract visitors, not just homeowners.
In Tasmania, the state government took away from the Hobart city council planning control for Sullivan's Cove (ie Salamanca Place, Battery Point etc) because it felt that the local council was too likely to sell out to residential developers who want to build, sell and scoot with the profit, and who aren't interested in providing the infrastructure for the longer term development of tourism in order to gain attendant benefits such as continuing local employment etc.
Look around - anywhere else in the world, residential development like Newport Quays would include a sizeable element of tourism infrastructure.
But at Port Adelaide, the developers will build a monoculture of housing.
Where are the bus and public car parks? Where is the short term accommodation for tourists? Where are the additions to the Port's existing historic attractions, which are close enough for people to explore on foot? The Port has a maritime college, 12 amazing old pubs, a railway museum, old boats, a maritime musuem, aviation museum, old cars, military vehicles etc etc etc. How does the Newport Quays development leverage these assets to increase visitations and visitor spending?
It doesn't. They're developers, and want to build the houses, sell them and get out. In fact, at the request of the developers, the declared state heritage area in the Port has been reduced in size to allow more housing to complement the lovely tilt-up concrete dwellings going up on the wharfs. The 'thousands of jobs' the government has been boasting about will evaporate once the last house and marina berth are built. There's no new retail development planned, so the lucky owners will still shop at Westfield Kilkenny, the city or West Lakes.
The Newport Quays development is not bad per se, it is simply one-sided. With years of practice, the developers danced their way through the public consultation process with their original plan largely intact, despite objections like the ones I'm putting forward now. In fact, the amount of housing has increased since the early days of the development. Land set aside in the early plans for 'community use' at the east end of Semaphore Rd will now be used for housing. The waterfront will be fringed with hundreds of strata- titled and saleable moorings - not in the early plans considered at the consultations.
So my point is simple. The surplus land at the Port was not a gift to be given by Rann, Foley et al to the developer who flashed the most money - it was land owned by all South Australians which should have been put to the best advantage for all South Australians.
In numerous other similar sites around the world, the long term public benefits of developing disused port precincts for cultural tourism have been balanced with the development for private profit of the land.
Why isn't that the case here? Once the houses are built, the jobs will stop. There will be no tourism down at the Port, because there will be no facilities and no parking. Alone, of all the world's old inner city ports, Adelaide, with one of the world's most intact and historic port precincts, has decided to flog the lot for housing. It's very hard for anyone to stand up against the likes of Multiplex and Urban Construct, especially when the people's representative, the state government, is more or less in partnership with the developers.
Or maybe we're the world's last soft touch.
Bon voyage, a Port Adelaide full of activity and generating jobs and wealth as a tourist mecca, just like similar areas in other capital cities in Australia, the UK, US, Europe, South Africa etc etc.
Hello to a generic waterfront residential development enclave deserted during the day and just as quiet at night.
Thanks Mike, Kevin and Pat, I hope those real estate guys buy you the big drink they owe you, and please do enjoy the opening parties, on our behalf.