Property developer backs Whyalla green hydrogen and greensteel projects

By Peter Roberts

One of Australia’s most respected property developers has put a bold plan to the South Australian government to revive the steel city of Whyalla by building hotels and thousands of new homes to house a massive influx of residents needed to support planned green hydrogen and green steel manufacturing facilities.

With the South Australian government investing $600 million in the city to construct an electrolyser that will power a green hydrogen power station, major companies vying for the right to build renewable hydrogen-based manufacturing and export facilities and Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance preparing to manufacture Greensteel, Whyalla, seems set for a massive boom.

Now Barrie Harrop’s Thrive Construct and joint venture partner Japanese urban design group Nikken Sekkei have handed a letter of intent to SA government ministers proposing to build 2,500 mid-rise apartments capable of housing 5,000 to 6,000 people.

The $2 billion project would see mid-rise apartments of six to seven constructed of cross laminated timber, making the project the biggest example of CLM construction technology in the country.

Thrive director Barrie Harrop is responsible for some of Australia’s biggest urban renewal projects including the $1.5 billion Melbourne Central shopping centre and North Haven marina in Adelaide now valued at $3.5 billion, and is embarking on the construction of the world’s largest CLM hotel tower on Victoria Square, Adelaide.

Nikken Sekki has carried out numerous massive urban renewal projects in Japan, China, Korea, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, including recent 260ha to 500ha modular CLT housing developments in Shanghai and Hangzhou in China.

Yesterday Harrop met with South Australian Minister for Regional Development Clare Scriven and Minister for Trade and Investment, Housing and Urban Development and Planning Nick Champion and presented a letter of intent to embark on the project.

Nikken Sekki said in the letter “Nikken Sekki team welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with Thrive Construct to create a one of a kind advanced modular cross laminated timber housing estates on the foreshore precinct of Whyalla.

“We hope that our experience will contribute and support the urban development of the foreshore precinct as a bridgehead to the future generation.”

More than $18 billion in green hydrogen projects have been proposed for Whyalla by Fortescue Future Industries, Origin Energy, H2U, Neoen, Chiyoda, ENEOS Australia, Mitsubishi Australia, and AMP Energy.

However, according to Harrop, Whyalla’s housing stock is run down and inadequate to the task of housing the number of workers needed for the project.

Harrop told @AuManufacturing: “To get the workers for these projects it is going to be a job and housing package, but the social housing stock is so run down and dilapidated.”

“If you look at the history of Whyalla the city was established by BHP.

“They built the steel works and they built the houses, that’s how the city was established.”

At yesterday’s meeting Harrop asked the state government to provide a repayable loan of $5 million to kickstart phase one of his scheme – a 178 room, 48 apartment foreshore hotel (below) designed by Cox Architects – the sister of his Victoria Square Adelaide hotel.

This was the same support the state gave to get the most recent 5-star hotel built in Adelaide – the Sofitel.

“We have not asked the government for a cent in grants.”

Harrop has had extensive talks with GFG Alliance and proponents of the hydrogen developments, and is convinced that the bigger, second stage urban redevelopment will be self funded, with manufacturing companies offering job and house packages.

“The Japanese want to achieve energy security and they realise if they can’t solve that, then they won’t get that security.

“We have solved that problem for the government.”

Harrop already has the support of the City of Whyalla, signing an MoU to plan and redevelop the foreshore, integrating new development into the revival of Whyalla’s historic city centre.

“We will start literally tomorrow if we can.”

Further reading:

Images: Alliance at left, foreshore development area top right/Thrive Construct

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