US firm to review Brompton gasworks decision

The Malinauskas Government has appointed an American multinational engineering firm to examine the former Marshall Government’s choice of a Victorian developer ahead of the Adelaide Crows to redevelop the Brompton gasworks site.

Planning Minister Nick Champion told parliament on Tuesday that US-headquartered global engineering firm AECOM has begun work on a review of the previous government’s decision to award Victorian-based MAB Corporation exclusive negotiating rights to remediate the 5.8-hectare Bowden site just north of the CBD .

A report will be handed down within six to eight weeks, Champion said.

Former Treasurer Rob Lucas selected MAB’s $459 million master-planned village proposal – featuring a 120-room hotel, 207 townhouses, 305 market sale apartments and 120 affordable apartments – ahead of the Adelaide Football Club’s bid for a new headquarters.

Labor made a pre-election vow to conduct an independent review of the decision, citing “widespread community disappointment” that the Crows were rejected.

Champion said the Department of Trade and Investment is now managing AECOM’s review to ensure separation from Renewal SA, which originally assessed the four shortlisted parties that put in proposals to redevelop the site.

“AECOM is a global multinational engineering firm specializing in supplying technical knowledge in the areas of design, engineering, construction and management, which covers the entire project life cycle,” Champion said in a ministerial statement on Tuesday.

“They have a deep understanding of the challenges of remediating heavily polluted parcels of land.”

Champion said he has met with AECOM and “stressed their authority to independently inquire into this process”.

“The review is independent of government and will make its own determination the process and suitability of the project announced by the former Treasurer the Hon. Rob Lucas,” he said.

“Once the review is complete, the government will consider the report.”

AECOM, headquartered in Dallas, is a Fortune500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange with offices around the world. It has been involved in dozens of major US construction projects, including the new One World Trade Center in New York, multiple NFL stadiums and a $5.4 billion renovation of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

According to the AECOM’s website, it has also recently been involved in the Tennis SA Memorial Drive redevelopment and the construction of the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building on North Terrace and Adelaide Botanic High School in the CBD.

Champion said AECOM’s review of the Marshall Government’s Brompton gasworks decision would compare the original criteria for Renewal SA’s assessment against:

  • the original government approval of the Bowden project for both consistency and appropriateness,
  • the master planning and market strategy of this project,
  • the appropriateness of the methodology and the cost of the remediation strategy,
  • consistency with the objectives of the 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide, which includes the use of the land, community considerations and the Planning and Design Code,
  • the economic and community benefit, and
  • the 20 year State Infrastructure Strategy.

The State has been tight-lipped about its current state of negotiations with MAB Corporation and whether taxpayers face any liability to the Victorian developer if its exclusive Government negotiating rights are revoked.

The Adelaide Football Club shifted its vision to Thebarton Oval in the wake of the Marshall Government’s snub of their Brompton HQ, but the club met with the new Labor Government after the election amid hopes for a lifeline.

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