Following its acquisition of Waterfront City late in 2014, current owners Ashe Morgan have moved to further reinvent and reposition the precinct, which includes Harbour Town and the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel as major drawcards.
The first stage of overhaul works which were concentrated on Harbour Town are concluding. These included improvements to hardscaping with new pavers, timber decking, planters and outodoor seating, in addition to new ETFE canopies designed by The Buchan Group and demolition of redundant walkways and escalators to unclutter the spaces.
The next stages of the precinct-wide upgrade include the division of Waterfront City into defined sub-precincts located largely within the existing built form currently on-site. Ashe Morgan engaged local firm NH Architecture to design the upgrade and new built form.
The expectation is that the connotations associated with the first version of Waterfront City will be swept aside by the new design features. NH Architecture via their Facebook page state "The ambition for the redevelopment is to create a new village for Melbourne with all the uses, activities, spaces and places that support a healthy inner city community… a genuine 'piece' of Melbourne."
These enhancements will go some way to providing Waterfront City with a stronger identity and adding some diversity to the Docklands precinct. The provision of a cinema and the establishment of a fresh food and market precinct which not only services the residents and workers at NewQuay and Waterfront City, but also the greater Docklands area, making the area a destination in its own right.
ING's divestment in the precinct which saw various elements of the site fall into the hands of a variety of owners in MAB Coporation, Hiap Hoe, Capital Alliance and Ashe Morgan, looks to have been a step in the right direction.
With Aqui, Promenade and Four Points Sheraton almost complete, Banksia well out of the ground and Marina Tower progressing well, the area which now forms NewQuay Central will see a significant increase in the population of the area as well as a new front door for the precinct from the water.
The proposed enhancements coupled with Capital Alliance's respective high-rise projects at 3-43 Waterfront Way and 28-38 Pearl River Road will see Waterfront City's transformation complete.
The only sticking point perhaps is the name of the precinct. Having lost its waterfront frontage, the name Waterfront City no longer appears appropriate and with a new look and feel, now might an appropriate time to rebrand the precinct and create a new identity.