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Is this the Port's new dawn?

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Long neglected and blighted by grand plans with false starts, Port Adelaide could finally be facing an overdue renaissance, with 1260 homes set to be built on around 23ha of waterfront land.

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The Government has identified preferred buyers for the land, part of the 40ha it put on the market last year. It remains in negotiations to sell off some or all of the remaining 17ha.

The future of development at the port has been under a cloud since the Government canned the NewPort Quays project in 2011 and bought the site pending a broader community consultation.

“The message we got from the community was clear,” Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan said today.

“They wanted development, they wanted more people down at Port Adelaide – but they wanted lower building heights, they wanted lower densities, they wanted public access to the waterfront and public activities on the water.”

port2He’s adamant the deal announced today will deliver on each of these, with a raft of residential developments mooted to support about 250 direct and indirect jobs during each of the next seven years of construction. The building work is expected to cost around $280 million in private investment.

But the terms of the sale are still being finalised, with the price of the land deal remaining commercial-in-confidence.

Two developers have been anointed to develop a masterplan over the next six months, in consultation with Renewal SA.

Starfish Developments intend to build 760 homes across Dock One and the eastern inner harbour, while Cedar Woods has agreed to construct 500 residences in the North West and Fletcher’s Slip precincts.

port3With the Government having long abandoned its own plans to beautify the end of Port Road with public money, the masterplan will include a promenade around the inner harbour to maintain public access to the waterfront, along with a retail hub, observation deck and an outdoor cinema.

Mullighan insists the plan – in conjunction with moves to refurbish the former Primary Industries and Resources SA building at Cruickshank’s Corner and relocate its national headquarters to the site – will breathe new life into the port.

“There needs to be more people working and living in the port,” he said.

“I’m confident we have struck the right balance between getting more people to live in the port but also ensuring we learn from previous projects and the community response to them… these projects provide plenty of open space and recreational facilities, as well as preserving public access to the waterfront.”

The announcement coincided with the Government formalising its agreement to sell the 16.5ha Glenside site to Cedar Woods – for $25.8 million.

That project – which includes about 1000 medium to high-density homes – is expected to begin construction later this year, with the controversial land sale to offset the cost of a new mental health facility on the site.

Cedar Woods development director Patrick Archer said the two developments together represented “a very attractive mix of projects in South Australia and we will be ramping up our Adelaide office to deliver them”.

“We see [Port Adelaide] as a blank canvas, building on the maritime history that’s been here for a long time,” he said.

He said the stop-start rate of progress in the precinct thus far was no surprise, observing such projects “can be complex areas”.

“Remediating industrial sites, it sometimes takes a long time for the market to catch up with the complexities of it [but] watch this space – it will be a wonderful development within the next five to 10 years.”

Starfish Developments Managing Director Damon Nagel said the Dock One project’s centrepiece was refitting the Port Harbour Building into a “Port Harbour Collective”, whose ground floor will feature “artisan food producers, providores and high- tech working spaces for local businesses and community”, with an adjacent community garden and upstairs boutique apartments.

Nagel said he wanted Dock One to become “a new destination for people from across Adelaide”.

NorthernView DuskOpposition spokeswoman Vickie Chapman said the Liberals supported development on the port “provided it recognises that it’s a working port” but remained concerned that this represented the third major plan for the precinct in recent years.

“My biggest concern in political terms is that they’re putting Renewal SA in charge… after a [previous] litany of dysfunction and lack of expertise,” she said.

But Property Council SA executive director Daniel Gannon said the “substantial development investment” would mean “more hard hats and steel caps for South Australians, along with economic development and stimulus”.

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