$120 million extra for Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Greater Geelong deputy mayor Trent Sullivan, Senator Sarah Henderson and Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas. (Supplied) 263804_01

Ash Bolt

The state government has bought a Deakin University carpark at the Waterfront and committed an extra $120 million to the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre precinct.

The extra funding for the project, which is the largest project in the Geelong City Deal, will be used to build a 200-room luxury hotel and retail and commercial spaces on the site along Western Beach Road.

The funding added to the $174 million previously committed to the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The state government has now committed $261 million, with the federal government contributing $30 million and the City of Greater Geelong $3 million.

Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the state government had come to an agreement with Deakin University on sale process to that would allow enable the transfer of ownership of Deakin’s waterfront car park site to the state, subject to approvals.

The sale would then allow for works to start on the precinct this year.

Deakin University is expected to build a replacement carpark at a nearby site.

“This is an exciting step forward for the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre, which will deliver hundreds of jobs and bring bigger and better events to Geelong,” Ms Thomas said.

The Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre is expected to support 600 jobs during construction and an additional 270 ongoing jobs once complete.

The state government will soon release an expression of interest for architects, designers and builders, ahead of a stakeholder engagement process, which will also focus on commercial opportunities to activate the precinct and create better connections to the CBD and Western Beach.

“The Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre will deliver a very significant boost for our local economy, both during construction and once operational,” Geelong-based Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson said.

“It will also provide our magnificent waterfront and city by the bay with an incredible asset to drive tourism and our visitor economy.”

Geelong MP Christine Couzens added the purchase was a significant step to ensure the project provided maximum benefit to Geelong.

“We know we will only get one chance to create what will be one of the most significant projects in this region’s history – one that will create jobs and stimulate the economy for decades to come,” she said.

“A centre of this size located on Geelong’s spectacular waterfront will be a magnet to events of all sizes from across the state, the country and internationally.”

City of Greater Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher welcomed the announcement and said she was “pleased to hear the project is moving forward as planned.”

“Geelong is Victoria’s second biggest city and offers some of the best hospitality and tourism opportunities in Australia, with a waterfront precinct that rivals any in the country, so has deserved a convention centre precinct that will enable even more people to come and explore all we have to offer,” she said.

The addition of the luxury hotel would provide a “significant boost” to the region’s offerings as tourism destination, according to Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine executive director Brett Ince, with the region “increasingly becoming a destination of choice for business events”.

Supporting tourism was also the focus of another state government funding commitment, with Ms Thomas announcing it would invest $400,000 through the $10 million Regional Recovery Fund to support Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine and Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism to implement a Business Events Attraction platform to promote the region as a business events destination outside the summer peak season.

The project features an online platform, $50 per delegate rebate and promotion to attract business conferences, trade exhibitions and other business events to the region.