Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre expansion MCEC render

Preliminary works started this week (May 29) on the planned expansion of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) and broader South Wharf precinct.

Acting Premier of Victoria James Merlino joined Plenary Group Chairman John O’Rourke and MCEC Chief Executive Peter King to announce the start of the more than AUD$300 million project that includes an expansion of MCEC, a new 331-room hotel and multi-storey car park.

Leading infrastructure investor, developer and manager, Plenary Group, is sponsor, investor and financial arranger for the project, with Plenary and partners investing more than AUD$100 million.

Flagship Property Holdings is Plenary’s development partner responsible for the new hotel, for which an operator is yet to be announced.

Flagship will combine with Plenary and builder Probuild to construct the 331-room, four-star hotel, which will rise 20 storeys above a six-level car park and is expected to be complete in the first half of 2018.

The hotel will form part of the broader expansion of MCEC where preliminary works formally commenced this week.

Steve Wise, CEO of Flagship Property Holdings, said he is delighted to partner with Plenary Group, Probuild and architects Woods Bagot and NH Architecture on the project.

“Flagship Property Holdings has rapidly developed a reputation for delivering quality award-winning projects, so we’re thrilled to be involved in another major development,” Wise said.

“This builds on the previous success of the partnership between Flagship and Plenary on the Hilton Melbourne South Wharf hotel, developed as part of the Melbourne Convention Centre and South Wharf DFO Retail Precinct.

“The MCEC is one of Australasia’s leading conference centres, so we’re excited to be given the opportunity to develop the new hotel in conjunction with our project partners as part of the Centre’s broader expansion.”

MCEC new hotel render

Plenary Group Chairman John O’Rourke said he was pleased to see the commencement of works after they were first announced nearly two years ago.

“This expansion was planned-for during the design stage of the first Melbourne Convention Centre development we completed in 2009, so it is great to be finally realising what we envisaged back then,” O’Rourke said.

“The South Wharf car park was always designed to accommodate large buildings above it, and it is pleasing to have reached the point where we can start this exciting development.”

O’Rourke said the expansion will help MCEC attract larger and more diverse events to Melbourne and will increase business and trade activity in the South Wharf precinct.

“As significant investors across the whole precinct, Plenary and Vicinity Centres are well-placed to ensure it is expanded in a way that helps attract business events while also ensuring South Wharf remains a food, beverage and retail destination.”

MCEC Chief Executive Peter King said the expansion will ensure Melbourne remains Australia’s number one business tourism and events destination for decades to come.

“The 20,000 square metre expansion of our facility includes 9,000 square metres of flexible expansion space, a 1,100-seat, multi-purpose facility and a gala banquet room for up to 450 people,” King said.

“It will ensure MCEC remains Australia’s largest convention and exhibition space, and is able to accommodate the growing global demand for multi-purpose meetings and events spaces.”

Plenary was the sponsor, investor and financial arranger for the 2009 Melbourne Convention Centre development and is responsible for managing the asset under a 25-year design, build, finance and maintain contract.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management