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Andrew keeps the faith

27 Oct 2012

Andrew keeps the faith Image

Despite its apparent failure as a retail precinct, MAB Corporation chief Andrew Buxton remains upbeat about NewQuay.

He is building a strategy around sustainable activation of the water and a quality dining offering in the precinct.

He advocates the removal of the western end of Central Pier to allow more water activity in Victoria Harbour.

“We’ve been pushing for it to be removed and we hit a hurdle because it was too hard.  But I think if they did remove that it would be fantastic for the little boats because it would open it right up,” he said.

“Docklands is getting there and it’s got to be better. I’d still like to see more people come up from the bay to this precinct.”

Mr Buxton is a supporter of a commuter ferry between Federation Square and Waterfront City.

“Once the (Southern Star Observation) wheel’s up and once you have got the anchor of the wheel, I think it will be fantastic.  But I think it’s got to go from the tennis centre to here with the various stop offs.”

“The ferry idea sounds fantastic.  In theory, it sounds really good and once it’s going and connected to the Myki system, I reckon it’s going to be fabulous.”

Like many others, Mr Buxton also supports the call for a single authority to govern the river.

“It’s obvious – the less imposition, the better,” he said. “No one will make a decision; they’re afraid to make a decision.”

But he doesn’t think that a punt across Victoria Harbour would work.

“They’re not going to come on a punt.  If I worked at the ANZ Bank, I would walk down and catch the City Circle Tram,” he said.

“They need to be educated about how often it comes past and when it comes past. We’ve got to educate these people that they come across here.”

He said there was little point promoting NewQuay as a dining destination in its current state.

“Once we know we have a nucleus of some good restaurants and we know that the make-up is right, we can promote it.  By then, the wheel will be finished and the Conder Plaza will be complete with artworks.”

He also acknowledges that the area’s reputation has suffered.

“We’ve got to forget that and start to re-promote it,” he said. “I don’t want to launch anything until it’s right.”

“We recognise that the quality has gone down.  And at the moment I can’t recommend it. They will come down here if the offer is right.”

On a personal level, Mr Buxton has an idea which he believes will add to the attractiveness of Docklands and uses the wind to advantage.

“What is the enemy of Docklands?  It’s the wind. So let’s turn it into our friend,” he said.

“We’re going to build a machine out in the water as part of the arts package.  It spins around and the more it spins, the more energy it harnesses.  And I’m going to convert that energy into a water-blowing machine.”

“So, on the hour, sitting out here, it’s going to go voom!  And the more it blows, the bigger the noise and the bigger the water. We’ve got engineers working on it.  I’m committed to it.  But first I’ve got to make it work.”

“We need a whole series of things which added together will be greater than the sum of the parts,” he said.

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