Bold bid to re­shape Ho­bart wa­ter­front

Antarc­tic bod­ies back pro­posed science precinct De­sign process be­lieved to be well ad­vanced

Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - DAVID BENIUK

PLANS for a su­per science precinct at Mac­quarie Point and a rad­i­cal float­ing ho­tel nearby in the River Der­went are the lat­est con­cepts be­ing con­sid­ered as part of Ho­bart’s de­vel­op­ment boom.

An Antarc­tic science and ed­u­ca­tion hub in­cor­po­rat­ing key bod­ies such as the Aus­tralian Antarc­tic Divi­sion is a key part of the new vi­sion for Mac­quarie Point.

Tas­ma­nian Po­lar Net­work chair Richard Fader, left, says the peak body backs a com­bi­na­tion of science, ed­u­ca­tion and com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions near Tas-Ports’ pro­posed Antarc­tic berths. A de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion for the 270-room ho­tel off the Re­gatta Grounds will be lodged with the Ho­bart City Coun­cil next month.

ANTARC­TIC or­gan­i­sa­tions and busi­nesses are back­ing a pro­posed science precinct at Mac­quarie Point, with sev­eral in­di­cat­ing they would be open to mov­ing to the site.

An Antarc­tic science and ed­u­ca­tion precinct re­mained a key el­e­ment of the Mona-driven new vi­sion for Mac­quarie Point re­leased last year.

Mac­quarie Point De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion CEO Mary Massina has made the hub a pri­or­ity for the first five years of the 30-year plan for the for­mer rai­l­yard.

For­mer State Growth Min­is­ter Matthew Groom in­di­cated a $40 mil­lion pro­posal could be part of a City Deal for Ho­bart with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

But a precinct for­mal­is­ing Ho­bart’s sta­tus as the sci­en­tific gate­way to the frozen con­ti­nent would need to at­tract ma­jor play­ers from the $180 mil­lion per year Antarc­tic sec­tor.

The MPDC and Depart­ment of State Growth have met with key groups in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian Antarc­tic Divi­sion, CSIRO, Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy, Univer­sity of Tas­ma­nia, the Com­mis­sion for the Con­ser­va­tion of Antarc­tic Marine Liv­ing Re­source (CCAMLR) and the Tas­ma­nian Po­lar Net­work.

Most are back­ing the pro­posal as they deal with age­ing build­ings and pres­sure to make way for tourism de­vel­op­ment on prime wa­ter­front sites.

Peak body the Tas­ma­nian Po­lar Net­work is back­ing a com­bi­na­tion of science, ed­u­ca­tion and com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions near TasPorts’ pro­posed Antarc­tic berths, which will ser­vice new ice­breaker the Nuy­ina from 2020.

“We’ve got a num­ber of mem­bers who would look at re­lo­cat­ing their busi­nesses, if it works out right, to be in the hub of the science precinct,” TPN chair Richard Fader told the Sun­day Tas­ma­nian.

“There would be noth­ing like it in any other gate­way city in the world.

“Tassie’s got such a great science and ed­u­ca­tional back­ground in the Antarc­tic, but to bring it all to­gether in one spot with those com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors as well would be some­thing that is un­like any­thing elsewhere.”

A likely early ten­ant would be CCAMLR, which has hosted 25 in­ter­na­tional mem­bers in the old Hutchins build­ing since 2003.

“As much as we love this Hutchins build­ing, we’re run­ning out of space here,” ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary An­drew Wright said.

“Part of our dis­cus­sions have been the need to be able to ser­vice CCAMLR’s an­nual meet­ing re­quire­ments.

“That’s been fac­tored into plan­ning.”

Mr Wright said CCAMLR, which is jointly funded by the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments, would wel­come the op­por­tu­nity to progress the con­cept.

“I haven’t heard any­one who has had a neg­a­tive word to say about it,” he said.

“What peo­ple are wor­ried about is the pos­si­bil­ity that the space will prove in­suf­fi­cient

within a 10-15-year time frame and it will be out­grown.

“Be­ing able to ac­com­mo­date fu­ture growth is some­thing that needs to be fac­tored in.”

The Sun­day Tas­ma­nian un­der­stands a de­sign for the precinct is well ad­vanced after award-win­ning ar­chi­tect Robert Mor­ris-Nunn submitted plans as part of the MPDC’s first ex­pres­sion on in­ter­est process last year. They would com­ple­ment an Antarc­tic­themed eco-tourism ex­pe­ri­ence pro­posed by UK en­vi­ron­men­tal char­ity Eden Project In­ter­na­tional, which is ex­pected to present a busi­ness case in com­ing months.

UTAS’s In­sti­tute for Marine and Antarc­tic Stud­ies is housed in near-new premises on Castray Es­planade but the AAD and CSIRO are in age­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

The AAD’s Kingston base opened in 1980 and presents a lo­gis­tic chal­lenge be­cause of its dis­tance from the ice­breaker berth. “The divi­sion is sup­port­ive of an Antarc­tic precinct,” a spokes­woman said.

“There are a num­ber of fac­tors that we’d need to con­sider for the divi­sion prior to relo- cat­ing any of its fa­cil­i­ties to Mac­quarie Point.

“(Cur­rent) in­fra­struc­ture con­tin­ues to meet the needs of the divi­sion.”

The CSIRO’s Bat­tery Point home opened in 1985 and is be­ing eyed by tourism de­vel­op­ers keen for an­other wa­ter­front ho­tel.

“CSIRO has had pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sion with both fed- eral and state gov­ern­ments and CSIRO will re­main en­gaged as the pro­posal de­vel­ops,” a spokesman said.

A BOM spokes­woman said the bureau wel­comed ini­tia­tives to sup­port Aus­tralia’s Antarc­tic work.

MPDC chief Ms Massina said talks so far had been pos­i­tive. “The cor­po­ra­tion will work hard with stake­hold­ers as well as with the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to bring the precinct to fruition,” she said.

A fed­eral par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee ex­am­in­ing Antarc­tic fund­ing toured the Mac­quarie Point site last month.

The state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments say work on a City Deal, which would be needed to fund the precinct, is pro­gress­ing.

RE­VEALED: An artist’s im­pres­sion of the float­ing ho­tel on the River Der­went.

Pic­ture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

UNIQUE: Tas­ma­nian Po­lar Net­work chair­man Richard Fader, pic­tured at Mac­quarie Wharf, said there would be noth­ing else like it in any other Antarc­tic gate­way city.

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