More high rise Adelaide buildings to come?

The media has informed Adelaide’s residents in recent weeks that $2.5 billion worth of new, potentially taller, building developments may be coming in the next decade or so. Only a fraction of these have been approved so far. Do we need all of them though?

Some of these new buildings will be refurbished old ones, new hotels, offices, student accommodation and retail buildings. These, if all that many get off the ground, are in addition to the new Adelaide Oval, expanded casino and the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. Big projects means bigger profit and it is hoped by some people in the building industry that Asian investors will fund some of these projects. The developers believe that our banks present too many annoying roadblocks for loan funding.

The only problem with all of this potential new development of the city centre is that the current population will not require some of these buildings. Many office buildings, for example, are often underutilised during a recession and some are now in 2013. Refurbishing those buildings would have made more sense. Of course, there is not enough profit from just doing that so the developers want to go big. This is while the state government and the city council feed the public this tall story that the population will grow by another half a million people (this is despite the lack of industry diversity and jobs).

Something else that needs some thought is the dilapidated student accommodation buildings in the city centre. Sure there are some newer ones but there are some old dumps as well that should be bulldozed. Thousands of foreign students from Europe and Asia mostly are ripped off for sub-standard accommodation. That is not an enticing welcome to Adelaide at all. Then they have to find something to do in their spare time. Many are not allowed to work and there is nothing to do in the city centre at night. It really is sad!

It will be good to see the city become much more modernised in the coming years but I have a feeling that some of these new buildings will end up largely empty after a few years have gone by. This city lacks a compelling reason for people to stay here to live, study and work – apart from being a less busy city. Public transport is woeful, traffic management is at its worst ever, crime in the city centre keeps many people away, inexpensive car parking is severely lacking and there is very little to do for entertainment.

The world of big business can see little point in exploiting Adelaide’s small market combined with the highest taxes in this country for businesses. A big incentive such as lower business taxes needs to be given so that industries can create, innovate, diversify, expand and employ more people. Clearly something urgently needs to change beyond band-aid solutions like rebuilding a sports oval and moving a fountain and some trees around in the town square and major shopping strip. Perhaps the incentives should be in place before the developers are let loose on the city centre?