EXCLUSIVE: Exhibitors and event organizers have been left scrambling for dates in the first half of 2017 after property developer Mirvac squeezed Australian Technology Park Conference Centre in Eveleigh (next to Redfern) by bringing forward intrusive site works from July to February.
The shock news that ATP would close for good next July comes after the sale of the Australian Technology Park site in April last year. As a result the Sydney events industry faces a tight venue market despite the new International Convention Centre (ICC) coming online in December.
ATP told exhibitors (including ENTECH, run by Juliusmedia Group) that Mirvac will close both outdoor car parks from February, erect hoardings, and commence drilling under the access road to ATP. This renders the venue virtually useless, and led management to recommend that tradeshows, events and conferences booked at the centre between February and June 2017 find new locations.
The sale of ATP in April 2016 caught the industry unawares, despite the NSW Government telegraphing intent in 2014. The site contains a Biomedical Building, the National Innovation Centre, NICTA and Media City – along with the heritage listed ATP railway sheds.
Of more interest to Mirvac are two open carparks, measuring almost 90,000 square metres which will be develeoped for commercial use. Developers have learned from Lend Lease whose Barangaroo development on the North Eastern end of Darling Harbour has been continually modified to provide more floorspace. Upon each modification passing, (they are up to ‘Modification 8’) a new version is prepared and lodged, each leap frogging the previous. In this way, Lend Lease have expanded the site to include the Crown Casino, which was not anticipated when they won the tender to develop the site.
Mirvac told CX they already have the Commonwealth Bank signed on as a tenant within some of the new works, so ‘Modifications’ will not happen.
Back at ATP, management face a difficult time as their events income dries up and they sit paying rent to Mirvac until June 3o. Events organisers contracted with ATP (including Juliusmedia) are securing whatever dates they can find at venues like ICC, Moore Park and Royal Randwick.
Juliusmedia are angry that we must scramble to relocate our contracted ENTECH and SECTECH events in the first half of 2017 on new terms, well after we in turn contracted our sales with our clients at what we thought were fixed costs with ATP. We contend that a contract is a contact, and Mirvac as ultimate owners of the ATP site owe ATP better treatment than what is currently on the table.
Urban Growth NSW is the government developer of state land. They are defensive about this story.
“Staff at ATP Conference Centre (ATPCC) will continue to work with venues to accommodate clients impacted by the changes. The team at ATPCC certainly does not regard the venue as “useless” and is working closely with clients and Mirvac to ensure events held in 2017 will be successful. The quality of service and facilities at ATPCC will continue to be as high as ever until the centre closes. We will keep our clients updated with any changes,” they said.
Mirvac in turn said that they are working closely with ATP management to maintain road access to ATP and “to access public parking spaces under the media centre”. CX understands that the closure of the two open air car parks will result in the media centre carpark filling up with daily tenant traffic leaving little or nothing for events. Not to mention the influx of builders.
Mirvac and Urban Growth NSW have thrown the hard working management of ATP and its events clients under a bus.
Sydney had 27,500 square metres of exhibition space at Darling Harbour, along with the convention centre, both of which were demolished to make room for the ICC. These will be replaced with 35,000 square metres of exhibition space at ICC but this small increase is roughly equal to the space lost almost simultaneously at ATP. This means the exhibition industry in Sydney has gained nothing, after calling for as much as 20,000 EXTRA square metres of exhibition space a decade ago.
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