New Geelong Convention Centre Announces Partner for its Redesign Project

31st Jul, 2023

The Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre precinct development is a step closer to reality with the selection of the preferred bidder to deliver the much-anticipated project, along with the unveiling today of proposed designs. 

Minister for Regional Development, Harriet Shing, joined City of Greater Geelong Mayor Trent Sullivan to announce Plenary Conventions has been appointed to lead the project and will soon start on what will be one of the biggest developments in regional Victoria. 

“With a waterfront precinct that rivals any in the country, this convention centre precinct will add to Geelong’s status as a UNESCO City of Design, and attract even more people to come and explore all this wonderful city has to offer,” said Shing – “Delivering the project will also be a major boost to the region, generating hundreds of jobs and injecting millions of dollars into the local economy.” 

The Victorian Government is investing more than $260 million into the project as part of the Geelong City Deal, with additional contributions of $30 million from the Australian Government and $3 million from the City of Greater Geelong. 

Mayor Cr Trent Sullivan said: "This centrepiece project will take our business and short-stay offering to a new level, deliver a wide range of opportunities for existing local businesses, and expand our labour market.” 

The Plenary Conventions consortium will transform the 1.6-hectare waterfront car parking site into a precinct that welcomes locals and visitors alike as part of the Public Private Partnership.  The consortium comprises the Plenary Group as sponsor and investor, Built as builder, Woods Bagot as architect, BGIS as services contractor and Quintessential Equity as developer. 

The development of this world-class facility and precinct has included extensive stakeholder consultation and ongoing work with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation on critical aspects of the precinct’s design, identity and recognition of local cultural heritage.  

It will include the construction of the purpose-built convention and exhibition space, incorporating a 1000 seat venue, two large exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, conference facilities and flexible event spaces. 

The precinct will also be home to retail spaces for food and beverage offerings and a large public plaza that promises to become a feature of the Geelong waterfront. In a boost for Geelong’s up-market accommodation stocks the development will also include a 200-room hotel under the internationally renowned Crowne Plaza brand. 

The Chief Executive of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre Natalie O’Brien AM said: “We’re looking forward to leveraging MCET’s experience, capability and global networks to bring a host of exciting and important events to Geelong, and working with the community to grow the region’s well-earned reputation as a destination. Each event we host at the centre will benefit a local ecosystem of hoteliers, event organisers, food providores, tourism operators, suppliers and so much more.” 

The investment will be a major driver of jobs and economic growth for the City of Greater Geelong and surrounding areas. It will support 600 jobs during construction and an additional 270 ongoing jobs once the precinct is complete.  

To ensure lasting benefits to the region beyond the centre itself, the Government is supporting local organisation gforce to recruit up to 30 new local apprentices and trainees who are experiencing disadvantage in entering the workforce.  

Apprentices will be employed full time for the duration of their apprenticeship and until they secure full time employment with private contractors.  

The Plenary Conventions consortium has a proven track record developing and maintaining the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and enhancing the South Wharf precinct for nearly 20 years. 

The Trust that operates Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre will also manage and operate the new Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre, once complete. The two centres will cement Victoria as a premier global destination for events.  

“The City of Geelong has undergone significant growth in recent years. This development will build on its reputation as a business and sporting powerhouse in regional Victoria,” the Federal Minister for Regional Development Catherine King said.

Preliminary works on the site are underway and construction is set to begin shortly, with completion of the convention centre and hotel in early 2026. 

The precinct development is the centrepiece of the Geelong City Deal - a $500+ million commitment between the Australian and Victorian governments and the City of Greater Geelong. It is revitalising the city and regional economy, encouraging visitors to spend more time in the region by capitalising on its natural assets. 

For more information on the Geelong City Deal and precinct click here  

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