Port Adelaide’s Customs House precinct to undergo spectacular $20m revival 

Port Adelaide is on the brink of its most substantial redevelopment in decades, as plans for a $20m makeover of the iconic Customs House precinct aim to transform it into one of South Australia’s premier tourist destinations.

Exciting plans are underway to revitalise Port Adelaide’s Customs House historic precinct, aiming to reinvigorate the area into a vibrant hub and premier destination for both locals and visitors.

Led by SMG Property Developer Hans Ehmann, the project embraces the rich heritage of Port Adelaide by repurposing iconic landmarks such as Customs House, the Telegraph Office, Institute Building, and Waterworks offices. Nestled within the city block bordered by Commercial Road, Nile Street, Robe Street, and North Parade, these heritage structures will undergo meticulous restoration to preserve their original charm and historical significance.

The development aims to transform the precinct into a dynamic space for the community, offering a blend of function, studio, and gallery spaces, alongside retail outlets and diverse dining options including an alfresco dining area and a brauhaus. Ample open spaces, adorned with street furniture and lush greenery, will provide inviting environments for social gatherings and leisure activities.

By returning the existing buildings on Commercial Road to their original configurations, the project will pay homage to the precinct’s late 1880s origins, reinstating access to the area’s core and honouring Port Adelaide’s illustrious maritime history. Through thoughtful restoration and innovative design, the revitalisation efforts seek to breathe new life into this historic locale, ensuring its legacy thrives for generations to come.

“The masterplan unlocks a long dormant area which buzzed with life in the Port’s heyday and will make it the beating heart of the Port once more with a world-class heritage plaza at its centre,” stated Mr. Ehmann.

“The design is very welcoming and invites visitor access through a variety of entry points created by removing later additions to recreate an attractive public realm. It will become one of South Australia’s ‘must-see’ destinations and I’m sure the Port community will be very proud of it.”

The upcoming public plaza will be thoughtfully landscaped, featuring interpretive play areas that pay homage to the rich heritage of Port Adelaide. A highlight along the main entrance will be sections of glass flooring, offering glimpses into the historic Harbour Master’s cellar beneath Customs House.

Mr. Ehmann is currently engaged in discussions with the South Australian Government to obtain the necessary approvals and support for the ambitious project.

Acting Premier and Port Adelaide MP Susan Close said the area was “undergoing a remarkable transformation and this sort of private investment is very welcome”.
“The Port’s maritime history is central to our city’s identity and I welcome developments that help to preserve this unique heritage.”
“Along with the new Port Dock rail spur, the new Dock One footbridge and other developments around Port revitalising Customs House will improve the overall amenity and accessibility of the area.”

Originally spearheaded by architect Graham Hardy, the project transitioned to the capable hands of John Byleveld Architects upon Hardy’s retirement. With a focus on celebrating significant heritage, Byleveld Architects is poised to bring Mr. Ehmann’s vision to fruition, crafting masterful designs that embrace the past while creating inviting public spaces for community enjoyment.

The initial phase of development will involve the removal of the Fisherman’s Wharf Shed to facilitate the creation of parking facilities, supporting the commencement of the Customs House precinct’s transformation.

Undertaking the construction of the Customs House precinct is Mossop Construction & Interiors, renowned for their expertise in heritage restorations. With a portfolio that includes projects such as Old Parliament House, Mossop Construction & Interiors is well-equipped to bring Mr. Ehmann’s vision to life. Currently, they are also engaged in constructing One SMG’s second Quest Hotel alongside the British Hotel on North Parade.

“This part of Port Adelaide was a bustling and vibrant place where people lived, worked and played. My vision with this developments is not just to recreate that vibrancy but make the Port better than it’s ever been,” said Mr. Ehmann.

“There has been a lot of investment in the Port over the past years, by likeminded people who can see the Port’s true potential, I believe that this project will further validate all of that commitment and create something that is truly special.”

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