Hopes rescue buyer may snap up Melbourne Star Observation Wheel

Hopes rescue buyer may snap up Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
Brendan Rees

A new potential buyer has emerged in the sale of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, raising hopes it may be brought back to its former glory.

Administrator Grant Thornton confirmed it was “currently working with a party” in relation to the 120-metre wheel, which closed nearly two years ago after its former operating company MB Star Properties Pty Ltd went into liquidation.

Grant Thornton partner and financial advisory head Andrew Hewitt said in July that the anonymous party, which he could not reveal at this stage whether it was an Australian or an overseas-based investor, had begun “a due diligence process to assess the operational issues in respect of the wheel”.

“Upon completion of this they will determine whether they wish to progress to a purchase of the assets,” he said.

The wheel opened in 2008 and cost an estimated $100 million to build, but a price guide of what administrators hope to sell the giant landmark for is being kept confidential.

While Grant Thornton’s engagement with the party has offered a glimmer of hope that the iconic wheel may turn again, the news will be greeted with cautious optimism as no solid buyer had been forthcoming, with various prospective buyers having shown “different aspirations” and entering into non-disclosure agreements since January last year.   

As previously reported by Docklands News, Mr Hewitt said there was much to be navigated in any prospective sale, which would be a “significant investment for whichever party decided to deal with it”.

The observation wheel closed due to the impacts of COVID and “pre-existing challenges of operating amid increased high-rise development and changes in the Docklands area, making it impossible to sustain the business,” according to MB Star Properties.

Last year leading architect firm Bates Smart pitched a bold plan for the observation wheel be moved to the Yarra River’s edge within a proposed seven-hectare park, which would be created by burying the railyards on the northern bank between Flinders Street Station and Southern Cross Station.  •

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