by Sarah J.F. Braley | July 09, 2018
In Melbourne, Australia, meetings offerings have received a boost with the opening of a 216,000-square-foot expansion of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and upgrades to the surrounding South Wharf district. The US$262 million project by the Victorian Government in partnership with Plenary Group, an investment firm, and its private-sector partners, also includes the new 347-room Novotel Melbourne South Wharf and a new 1,150-space parking garage.
The expansion includes 97,200 square feet of meeting space, a 1,000-seat multipurpose theater and a new banquet room. The MCEC now has more than 756,000 square feet of total event space. The new hotel, which is connected to the convention facility, features two restaurants: Mr. Carpano, named after Italian distiller Antonio Carpano, who invented Vermouth in 1796, serves rustic and seasonal Italian fare; and Allora, which offers more relaxed, casual dining.
 
Plenary Group chairman John O'Rourke said the project aim is to increase business and tourism activity in the area, hoping it remains Australia's number-one business-tourism and events destination. "We planned for this expansion when designing the Melbourne Convention Centre a decade ago, so it is great to be finally realising what we envisioned," he said. "As long-term investors in the precinct, Plenary was perfectly placed to deliver the expansion, ensuring MCEC continued its success and that South Wharf remained a food, beverage and retail destination."
 
John Brumby, chair of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust, said he is proud of the project and the benefits it will bring for MCEC's customers, the city and the state of Victoria. "A project like this involves a lot of different people and I think the success of this building is testament to the strong engagement among key stakeholders throughout planning and construction," he said.