Workshop seeks business feedback on GCEC

June 22, 2022 BY

A concept image for the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is expected to start construction in late 2023. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE team behind the coming Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCEC) has reached out to Geelong’s business community for their thoughts on the $294 million centre’s operation, the opportunities it might present and the events it might host.

The Geelong Chamber of Commerce held an online workshop for members of the chamber as well as G21 and the Committee for Geelong on Wednesday last week.

Organisers said the intent was to capture feedback and provide input into the project requirements, which will be released to the market as part of the tender process in the third quarter of this year.

Many years in the making and the centrepiece project of the Geelong City Deal, the GCEC will include a 200-room upscale hotel and commercial spaces, with a 1,000-seat plenary venue and 3,700 sqm of multi-purpose space to allow small and large events to run at the same time.

The workshop laid out a timeline for the project, with early expressions of interest under way now and a shortlisting of proponents to take place between July and September.

The development of the Request for Proposal (RFP) and requirements, including stakeholder engagement, will take place in the second and third quarters of 2022, with the RFP to be released in the third quarter of 2022.

RFPs will be evaluated and a preferred builder appointed in mid-2023 and construction is slated to start between October and December next year.

Participants in the workshop broke into small groups and discussed several questions, including:

* What would you hope to see in terms of local supply chain activation?

* Are there ways you would like to see the centre provide local career pipelines, training and development?

* What sort of local community causes, organisations or events do you think GCEC should support?

* What opportunities do you imagine for events in the centre?

* Why are these types of events important for Geelong?

* How would you differentiate GCEC from the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre?

Early works for GCEC have begun on a 1.6-hectare waterfront site between Western Beach Road and Smythe Street in central Geelong.

GCEC is included in the Central Geelong Framework Plan and will fall under the plan’s height and density limits, setback and overshadowing requirements, with the workshop showing a general design for the precinct.

A two-storey exhibition space along Western Beach Road is suggested, flanked by a 16-storey (59 m) residential tower to the north and a 12-storey (41 m) hotel tower to the south.

The workshop outlined six design principles for GCEC, including:

* Design quality must reflect “Geelong” civic style – unique and beautiful

* Use innovative approaches to deliver environmentally, economically and socially sustainable benefits in both the built form and the facilities’ operations, and

* Create a contemporary symbol for Geelong celebrating its status as a designated UNESCO City of Design, and maximise opportunities for use of GCEC through its design and location on site.