Sale of Melbourne Star still progressing as hopes stay alive the landmark will one day draw back tourists

Brendan Rees

The much-anticipated sale of the Melbourne Star is still progressing as administrators continue to work with a “number of parties” in the hope of soon clinching a deal.

Administrator Grant Thornton said “there are all sorts of options on the table” as the parties “factor in a whole raft” of considerations – but he could not confirm when or if a sale may be finalised.

“If I knew and if it was able to be disclosed I would, but honestly, I don’t know. We’ve got a mix of local and internationals who are considering it; they’ve been here, they’ve seen it,” he told Docklands News.

“We are making some progress but it’s slow progress.”

The iconic 120-metre-tall observation wheel on the waterfront was permanently shut down last September during the pandemic when the wheel’s operating company MB Star Properties Pty Ltd went into liquidation.

The wheel looked destined for the scrap heap until multiple parties expressed interest in buying the landmark structure just weeks after its closure, giving the Docklands community some hope that a rescue buyer would swoop in to keep the tourist attraction running. 

In January, Mr Thornton said, “a number of” Australian-based parties had entered into non-disclosure agreements after the Christmas period had “slowed things down a bit”.

He also said at the time that the sale of the giant observation wheel was “progressing”, however, an outcome of discussions with interested parties would unlikely be known until March.

But in his latest remarks to Docklands News, Mr Thornton, said “there’s a fair amount of work to get it moving again so they’re trying to factor in a whole raft of things”.

Asked if the enquiries from potential buyers was a promising sign that the wheel could turn again, he said, “I can’t provide a comment on that. All I can say is we have a number of parties, not one or two, who are still looking at it.”

Last year, Mr Hewitt confirmed there were about 10 to 12 parties who had registered their interest in the purchase of the Melbourne Star with a mix of local and international groups.

 

However, he said some “are only interested in specific assets” while “others are interested in the whole lot.”

 

The sale enquiries come as leading architect firm Bates Smart pitched a bold plan earlier this year proposing the observation wheel be moved to the Yarra River’s edge in what it described as a “golden opportunity”.

Under its vision, Bates Smart – which was behind the major architectural designs of Federation Square, the Royal Children’s Hospital and Crown Metropol – the train lines between Flinders Street Station and Southern Cross Station would be buried to accommodate a green space for events, such as night markets and cultural activations.

Docklands Chamber of Commerce executive officer Shane Wylie said the chamber “would love to see this iconic tourist landmark stay in Docklands, and we do hope that this is the outcome following this process.” •

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