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June 7, 2017

The Festival Centre shifts food culture north

Extending Adelaide's ever-evolving food and beverage scene to the Riverbank.

  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Main image: Andre Castellucci

With the scaffolding raised on the King William Street façade of the Adelaide Festival Centre, the next phase of the enlivened Riverbank promenade has begun.


 Expressions of interest for the retail spaces close in July 2017. Contact Julie Thomas at CBRE on 0431 844 065 for further information.

The Adelaide Oval redevelopment, the footbridge, the Convention Centre, and the research and health districts are each adding fresh life to the precinct, and so too will the refurbished Festival Centre.

“For many years we’ve turned our back to the water, for whatever reason,” Adelaide Festival Centre cheif operations officer, Carlo D’Ortenzio, says.

“You look at the northern side of the Adelaide Festival Centre, which is the side that faces the river –at the moment it looks like the back of a fridge.

Carlo D’Ortenzio

“It’s a nice area, it’s got great parks and everything, but there’s really nothing to hold people there. What we’re planning on doing now is rejuvenating all that so we can create a great promenade from King William Street right down to the Convention Centre and beyond.

“We’ve embraced the water. We’ve reoriented the whole Festival Theatre to face the water, so we’re going to utilise it, we’re going to embrace it, we’re going to really capture the essence of being next to water.”

If Adelaide’s own South Bank is the aim, there’s still some activation left to go, but Carlo is confident in the direction that the precinct as a whole is taking.

“It takes time to plan a project of this size, because it’s not just about us, it’s also about the whole precinct, and the precinct itself presents a number of opportunities,” he says.

“When you look at the Oval, how that’s brought people back into the city… then we ourselves, we bring in over a million people [per year] in terms of total attendances to the theatres itself.

“Then add to that the Convention Centre, the Casino, with the work they’re doing and proposed new building, adding to that what Walker’s going to be doing on the top plaza… all that requires a lot of planning, and so it’s something that we started back in 2011 and it’s taken all of this time to come up with the right master plan.”

As part of the Adelaide Festival Centre’s reoriented redevelopment, two retail leases will be up for grabs in the spaces that formerly housed The Bistro and the Elder Park Kiosk.

“Food and beverage opportunists will understand the value of these sites and the chance to capitalise on high traffic from local customers and tourists who are expected to flock to the area once the development is complete,” leasing agent CBRE’s Julie Thomas says.

“Few leasing opportunities with this prime Riverbank exposure are presented to the market. We expect significant interest from interstate operators and the best of Adelaide bar, café and restaurant scene.”

Carlo sees an opportunity for the eventual leasees to operate independently, but “benefit from an alliance with the Adelaide Festival Centre”.

“It’s not a money grab situation here at all, it’s making sure we get the right operator in those spaces that can work with us and enhance the overall experience of not [only] theatre-goers, but any visitor that comes along to the centre, and to the precinct,” Carlo says.

“It’s all about attracting people here, and to do that you need to create a central arts and entertainment hub that has a strong pulling power, and to get a strong pulling power you need people to have a great experience so they come here again and again and again.”

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