Melbourne, Australia already entices groups with its food and arts scenes—the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, in fact, is the site of the world’s longest lunch where 1,500 diners feast at one long table. But now attendees have even more reason to visit with the expansion of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), scheduled to debut in 2018.
The $300 million project includes the expansion of MCEC, a new 331-room hotel and a multi-story parking garage. The convention center is located in the city’s South Wharf precinct, where a variety of restaurants, bars and cafes are housed in restored heritage sheds situated along the Yarra River.
Development company Plenary Group is the sponsor, investor and financial arranger for the project, with it and its investors financing more than $100 million. Plenary Group Chairman John O’Rourke says the expansion will help MCEC attract larger and more diverse events to Melbourne and will increase business and trade activity in the South Wharf precinct.
MCEC Chief Executive Peter King adds that the expansion will ensure Melbourne remains Australia’s largest convention and exhibition space, and is able to accommodate the growing global demand for multi-purpose meetings and events spaces. “One of the key features of MCEC is the diversity of events that are conducted at the venue every day, attracting over 2 million visitors annually,” he says. “This expansion means more events for Melbourne and, most importantly, allows our customers to grow their events with us.”
The 215,278-sf expansion includes 96,875 sf of flexible meeting space, a 1,100-seat multipurpose facility and a banquet room for up to 450 people. When completed, the MCEC will be more than 750,000 sf.