By Melissa Keogh
The redevelopment of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital (oRAH) is an “incredible opportunity” for South Australia to create new themes in innovation, entrepreneurship and high-value job creation, says Premier Steven Marshall.
Brand SA News recently sat down with Mr Marshall, South Australia’s 46th Premier, to discuss his vision for the redevelopment and to ask – what infrastructure opportunities does the 7ha site present?
The State Government’s ambition for the oRAH will see it transformed into an innovation and start-up precinct, an international centre for tourism, hospitality and food services, and a national Aboriginal art and culture gallery.
“I think this site itself is so special it will attract global companies that want to have an Australian presence,” Mr Marshall says.
“I’m very optimistic about the potential for this site.”
One of the global companies the State Government has its eye on is Google.
The government recently approached the US tech giant in a bid to bring Google’s Australian headquarters to Adelaide.
Some of the state’s top business leaders have also voiced their desires for the global household brand to set up in the city.
Mr Marshall says some aspects of the tech giant’s operations would be ideal for South Australia and the oRAH site.
“There are some aspects of the Google operation which I think will be ideally suited to South Australia and we’re having in-depth discussions with the Google organisation now,” he says.
“I don’t think they’re going to uproot themselves from New South Wales and transfer all employees here, but I think there are very real opportunities … to bring areas of specialisation here to South Australia and they would be ideally suited to the old Royal Adelaide Hospital innovation precinct.”
The new chapter of the oRAH site began on September 6, 2017, when an ambulance blared its siren as it transferred the last patient to the new, world-class facility.
It marked the end of an era for the North Terrace/Frome Road site and the beginning of a once-in-a-century opportunity to create another standout piece of infrastructure for Adelaide’s CBD.
Now plans are afoot to breathe new life into the location, with demolition already taking place and continuing into 2019.
By the nature of its size and central location, the oRAH site presents a ‘build it and they will come’ opportunity that Mr Marshall says is unlikely to present again.
“We are very lucky because when you survey Adelaide there is a lot of opportunity to go up,” he says.
“Seven hectares in the middle of one of the world’s most liveable cities is an incredible opportunity and we have to make sure we do this, but also do it in a timely way so the site doesn’t sit vacant for longer than it needs to.”
Under the State Government’s oRAH vision, the creation of the innovation and start-up hub will be overseen by a chief entrepreneur who is “independent of the government” and will lead the facility’s establishment and operation.
The hub would allow new and existing businesses and entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and explore new technologies across fast-growing industries of defence and space, cyber security, food and wine, medical technology, robotics, and media and film.
Other plans for the oRAH include a $60m international centre for tourism, hospitality and food studies, which would include the relocation of the International College of Hotel Management and the Le Cordon Bleu school from Regency Park TAFE.
Mr Marshall says he wants South Australia to host more international students as they contribute greatly to the economy.
“We think that this old Royal Adelaide Hospital site is precisely the type of location to encourage more and more international students to come and study here in Adelaide and maybe even start businesses in South Australia,” he says.
According to the oRAH vision, Adelaide also has the potential to become the gateway to Aboriginal Australia, by way of a national Aboriginal art and culture gallery.
Mr Marshall says the South Australian Museum, Art Gallery of SA and Tandanya (National Aboriginal Cultural Institute) would work together to create something of national and international significance.
Other elements of the proposed oRAH redevelopment include a contemporary art gallery, hotel accommodation, and integration with the botanic gardens.
It is understood the redevelopment will take decades to come to fruition, and that decisions on development partners are yet to be made.
In the meantime, Renewal SA – which is managing the oRAH redevelopment – has activated the site with a number of temporary installations including music festivals, interactive light installations and fringe shows.
Mr Marshall says the oRAH won’t be the only key piece of infrastructure to unfold in Adelaide’s CBD
He says the Adelaide Casino revamp, the Adelaide Festival Plaza works, and Charter Hall’s $250m office tower development for BHP are other major projects helping to transform the city.
Mr Marshall says the Women’s and Children’s Hospital also presents another future development opportunity, as the State Government intends to co-locate the facility to the new RAH site by 2024.
“The detailed planning is being done on that at the moment … but therefore there will be an opportunity for another redevelopment of similar magnitude (as the oRAH) maybe not in quite the same iconic location, but a similar magnitude,” he adds.
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