A THIRD major project to reinvigorate one of Australia’s most prominent cultural boulevards has been announced.
The South Australian Government has revealed plans to transform the 7ha old Royal Adelaide Hospital site in the centre of Adelaide into a residential, tourism and innovation hub while extending the neighbouring botanic gardens.
The site fronts North Terrace and the River Torrens and is a little upstream from the Riverbank Precinct and the Adelaide BioMed City health hub, which are both under construction.
The Royal Adelaide Hospital has been on its current site since the 1850s but will be vacated next year when the new Royal Adelaide Hospital opens in the $3 billion Adelaide BioMed City precinct at the western end of North Terrace.
The transformation of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site will be one of the largest redevelopments of its type in the state’s history, generating an estimated $7.5 billion of economic activity.
It will feature four intertwined quarters:
- The Culture and Tourism Quarter will reuse heritage-listed buildings on North Terrace and likely include a new 5-star hotel a plaza, laneways and a European-style piazza.
- The University and Innovation Quarter will contain a world-class research centre – a state-of-the-art campus linking the education sector with technology leaders, start-ups, businesses, entrepreneurs and social organisations.
- The Living Quarter will cater for all generations, including a mix of leasehold apartments, shared student accommodation and a state-of-the-art aged care facility. It will feature about 1080 apartments, including 150 affordable student dwellings and 60 supported residential care dwellings.
- The 2ha Garden Quarter will run along the eastern boundary of the site and will involve the demolition of the hospital’s East Wing. The land will be transferred to the Adelaide Botanic Garden.
Property Council of Australia South Australia Executive Director Daniel Gannon said the site represented one of Australia’s most exciting development opportunities
“This has got to be one of the most attractive parcels of land on which to live in the city of Adelaide,” Gannon said.
“But we have only one opportunity to get it right.”
Gannon said putting in place a mixed-use development proposal was a key to the success of the project.
“We would like people to be opened minded about the future composition that will take shape over the next 15 to 20 years,” he said.
“There’s now a great narrative that’s being developed on North Terrace. You’ve got the education and medical facilities in the west that flows into the cultural and arts in the Riverbank Precinct.
“By including the residential component on the old RAH site, it really does complement that broad suite of offerings from west to east and that’s why we see North Terrace as Adelaide’s Champs-Elysees.”
The Government will now enter into exclusive negotiations with the preferred proponents – a consortium of South Australian property group Commercial & General and infrastructure and property company John Holland.
The consortium will work on a master plan for the site with public consultation to begin later this year.
Demolition works will start as soon as the hospital is vacated.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said opening up a part of the city previously inaccessible to the public was a crucial part of the project.
“The old Royal Adelaide Hospital site is one of Adelaide’s most prominent locations and provides a rare opportunity to transform and enhance the city’s East End for the benefit of all South Australians,” he said.
“This plan recognises the importance of maintaining day and night activity on the site, replacing the people lost by the relocation of the hospital and helping to sustain and grow economic activity in the East End.”
Commercial and General Chief Executive Jamie McClurg said the next step of the process would involve extensive consultation to ensure the best balance of outcomes was achieved.
“We want to deliver a project that is focused around a knowledge and innovation hub which will ultimately be a global showcase of South Australia’s thought leadership,” he said.
The section of North Terrace immediately to the west of the former hospital site is home to Adelaide’s sandstone sentinels such as the State Library, museum, art gallery and the University of Adelaide.
Across the road, a group of property owners and representatives from the State Government and Adelaide City Council is pushing to create a high-end retail hub on the strip.
In June this year, the State Government announced a $50 million extension of the city’s light rail network along North Terrace to the East End including the old hospital site.
South Australian Housing and Urban Development Minister Stephen Mullighan said the tram extension would not only provide a valuable link to the site but would also help breathe new life into the city’s East End.
“It will also help to activate vacant sites, including key buildings along North Terrace, in the same way that the extension of the tram line to the Entertainment Centre has brought with it new development and activity to the city’s West End,” he said.
“Recent experience both in Adelaide, interstate and overseas has shown how lower speed, street-level tram networks with frequent stops have the potential to stimulate urban development and increase the vibrancy of existing retail and service activities, compared to other forms of public transport such as buses and trains.”