Sydney investment house AsheMorgan has embarked on the final phase of its $150 million plan to turn Docklands’ unloved former Harbour Town mall into a retail, food and entertainment mecca.
Construction will kick off this week on The Market, a new fresh food precinct that will replace two levels of a seven-level car park adjacent to the mall, now known as The District Docklands.
Once complete in mid-2019, The Market will offer a 3800-square-metre, full-line Woolworths, a Dan Murphy’s liquor store, a large Asian grocer, a Priceline pharmacy alongside 25 speciality retailers including butchers, delis, bakers, coffee roasters and cafes with a design and feel inspired by famous overseas food markets such as Chelsea Markets in New York.
It will complement AsheMorgan’s revival of the next door mall, where a new eight-screen Hoyts cinema plus restaurants, Strike bowling, and an urban brewery will open in September.
“We believe from an entertainment perspective, the offering of The District Docklands will be unprecedented,” said AsheMorgan principal Alton Abrahams. “When you combine it with the nearby ice-rink and the observation wheel [Melbourne Star] it’s quite an exceptional and attractive precinct.”
Construction of The Market will start on Tuesday with a symbolic “concrete-cracking” ceremony.
Alongside the $150 million AsheMorgan project, developer Capital Alliance has approval for a $200 million Marriott hotel and apartment development rising 17 stories that will neighbour the mall, while across the road a new Quest hotel is being built by MAB Corp alongside a new state government primary school.
Mr Abrahams said AsheMorgan was also working on a new masterplan for the broader 10-hectare site. “This is a really exciting development for Docklands, part of the urban renewal of the whole precinct,” he said.
AsheMorgan paid $150 million for the windswept Harbour Town precinct on Docklands Drive when it bought it from ING Real Estate in 2014.
“We believe that much like Darling Harbour, Docklands is undervalued and is not reaching its true potential,” AsheMorgan founder Michael Moss told The Australian Financial Review in 2015.
AsheMorgan kicked off its work to bring life back into the precinct in 2015, building of a new roof over the mall to protect shoppers from rain and Docklands’ notorious wind.
Last year, AsheMorgan secured a number of new tenants for The District including Archie Brothers Electric Circus, the company behind Strike tenpin bowling and mini-golf venue Holey Moley, as well as 8Eight Street, an Asian hawker-style restaurant, and pancake house Route66.
Existing tenants include H&M, General Pants Co, Platypus Shoes, Skechers, Miniso, Ozmosis, Hype DC and Cotton On.
Mr Abrahams said he believed The Market would be popular with Docklands locals and people living nearby as a place to do their fresh food shopping.
“The District Docklands is the shining star in Melbourne’s largest urban renewal project, providing a convenient hub that caters to everyone’s needs,” he said.