By Belinda Willis
Port Adelaide is officially hip as its colonial buildings and rich maritime history attracts a surge in investment to reinvigorate its unique riverfront streets.
More than 20 new businesses opened their doors last year alone with Australian Tax Office figures showing the region recorded the most start-ups in the state.
New hotels, on-trend eateries, fashion stores, craft brewers and pubs have opened their doors, with some of the state’s heaviest hitters turning their attention to its grand collection of State Heritage-listed colonial buildings.
Among them, the team behind popular city spots Clever Little Tailor and Pink Moon Saloon have helped reopen Port Adelaide’s oldest existing building after it stood empty for 10 years.
Now the Port Admiral Hotel – built in 1849 on Black Diamond Corner – is bustling and is even brewing its own beer called Port Local, with director Crispian Fielke saying it was a project too good to ignore.
“It’s a magical time for Port Adelaide, there’s no opportunity like this left in South Australia, there’s the promise and the possibilities that are really exciting, the opportunity is incredible,” he says.
Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor Claire Boan says resident and visitor numbers are flourishing as grand projects boost the fortunes of the once bustling harbor that was a gateway for thousands of migrants keen to settle in the promising new colony of SA.
Nearby Techport at Osborne is benefiting from an $89 billion national submarine and ship build announced for the Royal Australian Navy with new work expected to create some 6000 local jobs.
“Over the next six years, the site will be developed in Osborne by Lend Lease for the building of the frigates, at a cost of $1.6 billion,” Claire says.
“A shed, 10 storeys high and big enough to fit in Adelaide Oval, will be built that will eventually house the two completed frigates built by BAE, side by side, all securely undercover.”
Meanwhile, two major new housing developments are also happening in the port, as the council sees a 3.1% increase in its gross regional product.
Starfish Developments intends to build 750 new homes on the waterfront at Dock One while Cedar Woods has plans for 500 homes in a $160 million development at Fletcher’s Slip.
“In the next five years I can see Port Adelaide going forward in leaps and bounds as there are more people living in the Port and working in the area,” Claire says.
Government is also taking the rejuvenation seriously, moving 400 city jobs to Port Adelaide this year and planning for the train line to be extended to bring passengers all the way to Dock One in the near future.
Claire says increasing numbers of tourists including more passengers from cruise ships are docking at Outer Harbor, choosing to climb aboard a new local hop on, hop off tourist bus service.
Local council is playing its part, with work well under way to highlight the port’s history in a new way finding project.
Pirate Life craft beer brewery is sharing the commitment to heritage as its founders create a new production line plus a 300-seat venue with a beer garden and 23m long bar in an historic woolshed in Barlow Street.
Joint founder Michael Cameron (a.k.a MC) and his partners, son Jack and Jared Proudfoot, are originally from Western Australia where Jack worked at much-loved Little Creatures brewery in Fremantle.
“We wanted to open here because we have faith in the future of the Port,” MC says.
Further along St Vincent Street the owners of the Port Mall are spending $45 million and creating 300 new jobs as they expand and rejuvenate the shopping centre into the Port Adelaide Plaza. And marine biologists Daniella Guevara and Kor-jent Van Dijk have joined forces to share their love of authentic Mexican food at another new venue, La Popular Taqueria.
They transformed an old computer repair shop in historic St Vincent Street using 100-year-old salvaged timber from the nearby historic Port Admiral Hotel for their counter and tabletops.
“More people are coming to the Port, we can already see the difference in the year we have been opened,” Daniella says.
After successfully reinvigorating the likes of Leigh Street and Peel Street in the city, the Ginos Group is also taking a punt on Port Adelaide, buying three old wool stores near the Dock One development.
While on a bend in the Port River, one of the area’s earlier transformations continues to inspire local creativity.
Once home to an iconic flour company, Hart’s Mill is an architecture award-winning cultural hub hosting live music, markets and an outdoor cinema. It’s been central to Port Adelaide’s 2015 and 2017 Wonderwalls street art festivals where street artists created striking pieces on buildings.
“We’re like the heritage capital of SA really and we’re trying to use that as a basis to a lot of what we’re doing here,” Mayor Claire Boan adds.
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