Melbourne Star sits idle after one year as no solid buyer emerges
With the one-year anniversary approaching since Docklands’ iconic Melbourne Star shut down, the sale of the giant observation wheel appears to be no closer.
The 120-metre-tall waterfront wheel closed for good last September during the COVID-19 pandemic when its operating company MB Star Properties Pty Ltd went into liquidation.
The wheel, which opened in 2008 and cost an estimated $100 million to build, looked destined for the scrap heap until multiple parties expressed interest in buying the landmark structure just weeks after its closure.
But the Docklands Chamber of Commerce chief executive Shane Wylie said he was disappointed that no solid buyer had emerged since the wheel had been abandoned.
“We are on the external of conversations regarding the Melbourne Star so aren’t aware of every machination, however it is disappointing that the administrators are taking so long to reach a decision,” he said.
“We’d love to see it stay as a feature of The District but if that’s not possible we’d like to see a decision made on it sooner rather than later. There has been too much procrastination on key decisions in Docklands.
“We’re all aware that the longer the Star stays still the harder it will be to engineer into a working attraction again.”
Liquidator Andrew Hewitt of Grant Thornton said talks with interested parties were ongoing, adding “different parties will have different aspirations for it”.
“There’s lots of moving parts to it but what I’m pleased with is we’ve currently got a couple of parties well engaged in the process,” he told Docklands News.
“We would be keen to move it forward as quickly as we can but it’s a very unique asset, and it hasn’t moved, it hasn’t operated for a year, so there’s lots of due diligence that parties looking to do deal with it need to do to understand it.”
He said the sale process was not like listing a car on Car Sales and then being able to “flog it” to the highest bidder.
“It’s a much more difficult and a much more complex asset than that. And it’s a significant investment for whichever party decided to deal with it,” Mr Hewitt said.
“They are clearly doing their due diligence; to get it up and rolling again is going to require teams of people, and we all understand some of the challenges of resourcing and logistics.”
Asked if the interested parties were offshore or Australian, Mr Hewitt said this could not be disclosed due to confidentiality agreements having been signed.
In January, Mr Hewitt said, “a number of” parties had entered into non-disclosure agreements but the Christmas period had “slowed things down a bit”.
Earlier this year, leading architect firm Bates Smart pitched a bold plan proposing the observation wheel be moved to the Yarra River’s edge in what it described as a “golden opportunity”. •
Caption: Iconic Melbourne Star at night, before it closed last September, 2021.
Photo: Tomas Vyšniauskas, Unsplash.