Stories from across the Asia Pacific

Building a world city in South Australia


Huge CBD developments are the key to business, innovation and lifestyle in Adelaide.

Comments Print article

Adelaide on the way to ‘world city’ status.

Huge CBD developments are the key to business, innovation and lifestyle.

Adelaide is capitalising on its potential to become the next great international city, as a remarkable renaissance in its CBD, infrastructure and economy drives growth.

Celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, the City of Adelaide is working on bold plans to grow the number of CBD residents in the years ahead. Working with the South Australian Government, Adelaide wants more developments, infrastructure and services for the city centre.

More than $3.5 billion of major developments are transforming Adelaide. Completed developments include the first stage of the Adelaide Convention Centre, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Rundle Mall and the successful Adelaide Oval upgrade.

Developments currently underway include the Adelaide Festival Centre expansion, the Adelaide Casino redevelopment and an exciting upgrade to Victoria Square to create more public spaces. Stage two of the Adelaide Convention Centre redevelopment, due in 2017, will add a multipurpose plenary facility with up to 3500 seats.

‘The amount of new investment in Adelaide is phenomenal,’ says City of Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese.‘We are attracting more international and domestic visitors, creating new industries, and ensuring Adelaide is well on the way to becoming an international city.’

Faster growth in residential CBD developments is expected. ‘An unprecedented number of CBD development applications are in the pipeline, and residential apartments are selling off the plan at a fast pace. More people want to live in the CBD, and developers are responding.’

A larger increase in Chinese investment is expected as Adelaide promotes itself to Asia, and Adelaide Airport, which is Australia’s fastest-growing airport, may need to be upgraded within 10 years to cope with the city’s growth, Haese says.

‘Adelaide’s CBD is becoming more vibrant by the day, and its prospects over the next 10 years are exceptional. We are on the brink of a stronger phase of growth, but the costs of doing business and living here are still lower than most capital cities.’

The City of Adelaide has an estimated 22,690 residents and 122,700 employees. As the municipality for the CBD, the City of Adelaide is the beating heart of the metropolitan area and the state – and the key driver of Adelaide’s plan to internationalise.

A city full of opportunities

Haese predicts that Adelaide’s business conference market will double within a decade, as interstate and international companies are attracted to its state-of the-art conference facilities, lifestyle and accessibility to the airport. A doubling of the Convention Centre’s size, three new hotels and another 600 rooms in the past two years have further boosted conference capacity.

In education, Adelaide ‘can become the Boston of Australia’. It has six universities, some of which are among the country’s highest ranked, and many private colleges. ‘The quality of our education, and Adelaide’s lifestyle and safety are big drawcards for international students,’ Haese says. ‘International education is a big opportunity for our city.’

Haese wants the City of Adelaide to lead the South Australian Government’s efforts to create an $8 billion tourism industry with 10,000 extra jobs by 2020. He says that South Australian tourism has been ‘decentralised’ for too long, with visitors encouraged to spend more time in the regions.

‘We are developing a strong hub and spoke model where the Adelaide CBD attracts millions of people each year and encourages them to visit the regions. Increasingly, Adelaide will be seen internationally as a strong tourist destination in its own right.’

In health care, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital forms a critical part of the South Australian Health and Biomedical Precinct, which has the state’s highest priority for health, research
and education infrastructure. It is encouraging a cluster of biomedical organisations, and other South Australian universities, to join the precinct – which is expected to be the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere– in its next phase.

Retailers are benefiting from the Rundle Mall revitalisation, Adelaide Oval’s redevelopment, the proposed upgrade of Victoria Square, and a larger city population. More than 50,000 people attended an international soccer match at Adelaide Oval on a Monday night. About
50 wine bars have opened in the past two years, adding to the city’s laneway culture and night economy.

‘Adelaide’s arts, sporting, hospitality and cultural strengths are encouraging more people to live in the CBD, which in turn is very positive for retailers,’ Haese says. ‘We expect a number of new residential developments in the next 10 years to cater for a much larger CBD population, and a changed city skyline, while respecting Adelaide’s heritage.’

Haese sees Adelaide’s heritage as an industry in its own right. ‘Adelaide is a global exemplar in preserving heritage, and showing how a deep respect for history and tradition adds to city livability and lifestyle, and becomes a significant competitive advantage.’

At the forefront of the digital economy

As established industries grow, Adelaide is fostering new ones. The United States tech giant Cisco Systems this year chose Adelaide as the first Australian ‘Lighthouse City’ for innovation – one of 10 in the world – describing it as a smart, sustainable and connected city.

Cisco last year chose Adelaide as Australia’s first ‘Internet of Things’ innovation hub to develop devices that connect through the internet. And this Year, Volvo chose Adelaide as the first Australian city to test its driverless cars, starting in November.

Adelaide was also the first capital city to provide free wi-fi in its CBD, and the city’s councils have committed to an analysis of rolling out free wi-fi to every main street of South Australia. If adopted, this initiative will provide better access to the digital economy for hundreds of thousands of residents.

‘Adelaide is strongly positioned for growth in the new economy,’ Haese says. ‘We continue to partner with the world’s largest companies in the most exciting technologies, which will lead to new industries and jobs.’

Sustainability is another opportunity. Adelaide wants to be Australia’s most carbon-neutral capital city, and believes that an industry can develop around its sustainability strengths. The city is implementing and encouraging new environmental technologies, and is leading the national debate on climate change and energy efficiency.

Commercialisation is also in focus. Adelaide has one of Australia’s most vibrant programs for entrepreneurs and innovators. More than 100 programs across the city are encouraging a new wave of start-up companies in established industries and the digital economy.

Haese, a successful business owner and entrepreneurship guest lecturer, says,‘The potential for entrepreneurs to create businesses around the state’s established industries, participate in emerging tech-based sectors and develop global companies is extraordinary. With that comes job creation’.

Building the demand side of the economy

A sharp increase in investment and infrastructure is boosting the supply side of Adelaide’s economy. The challenge is lifting the demand side by helping established industries, fostering new ones and creating jobs.

‘Job creation is the city’s top priority,’ Haese says. ‘The City of Adelaide is playing a leadership role in job creation, and is working with other councils and the state government to ensure South Australia overcomes current labour market weakness. We recognise there are short-term challenges, but the long term outlook for employment is robust.’

The City of Adelaide and the Local Government Association of South Australia convened an employment summit in July. The focus was on greater collaboration, marketing, reducing council red tape and better sharing of infrastructure projects.

Haese says that to create more jobs, Adelaide has to think differently, and bigger. ‘This city needs to play a different game to the other capitals. We have to promote Adelaide as a global city, and target a much larger audience,’ he says. ‘The pieces behind this strategy are rapidly falling into place: we have the skills, infrastructure, industries and lifestyle to be a truly international city. The goal now is selling that message to the world.’

To learn more about the City of Adelaide, visit and


More Education stories