New lion roars: why Pelligra Group is investing in SA

Immediate acceptance and flourishing activity at Lionsgate – the repurposed former Holden automotive factory at Elizabeth – signals an unexpected but welcome surge in business confidence for a region that is swiftly re-inventing itself and reviving its fortunes.

Designed to serve as a new industrial hub for Adelaide’s north, the 122ha Lionsgate site has been quickly populated with new businesses, proving itself to be an appropriate place for the timely expansion of existing companies and the foundation for new enterprises coming into South Australia.

Melbourne-based developer Pelligra Group bought the land from Holden during 2018, announcing that it would spend $250 million to redevelop and rename the site as Lionsgate Business Park. When the deal was settled in January, it signalled that SA carries significant potential for major investors from outside this state.

Ross Pelligra, chairman of Pelligra Group, says he was initially attracted by the size of the Lionsgate project – being one of the largest commercial land assets under one title in Australia.

A bird’s eye view of the former Holden site, now known as Lionsgate, at the end of 2017.

He is also thrilled that the site redevelopment is providing a springboard for new industrial opportunities to emerge in SA, at a critical time when industry is being revolutionised through rapid developments in technology and skills.

“Manufacturing is not like it was 20 years ago. The future is linked to the next level of urban renewal and advanced technologies,” says Ross.

“I believe that what is happening at Lionsgate represents the big way forward, providing a centre for up-skilled manufacturing and machinery – and the workforce in SA is ready for this leap forward.

“I truly believe that the leading edge SA business has is its people, and they are ready to embrace the next generation of manufacturing possibilities. The quick uptake of new manufacturing tenants at Lionsgate proves this.”

German battery giant sonnen and Business SA Exporter of the Year Levett Engineering are among the first wave of companies that have moved into the Lionsgate site, with the addition of more local and international manufacturing and technology tenants to be announced during March.

German battery giant sonnen’s Australian HQ is now based at Lionsgate, pictured is manufacturing manager Adam Williams. Photo by JKTP.

“Acceptance has been far beyond my expectation,” says David Reid, senior director with CBRE, the real estate agency responsible for signing up Lionsgate tenants.

“Industrial expansion on this scale represents a huge success for the local economy and the beginning of a new era for the northern suburbs. I think the new road network, with the completion of the Northern Connector, is showing that this location is very accessible, affordable and highly functional.”

Pelligra is a family company, headed by Ross and his brother Paul Pelligra (CEO), with more than six decades of experience in building and construction, and has made a solid commitment to support the rebuilding of manufacturing.

It’s a strong endorsement, as the world has seen many large industrial cities plunged into an economic tailspin after the closure of automotive manufacturing plants – Detroit in the US being the most shocking example. Ross views the departure of Holden from Elizabeth and the immediate opportunities presented by the Lionsgate site very differently.

“We came to Elizabeth with a positive attitude,” he says. “We didn’t want to just fill up this space with warehousing – we wanted to invest and be supportive of growth industries, and that is the emerging manufacturing industries that are embracing new technologies.”

The Elizabeth plant has transitioned from automotive manufacturing to an advanced manufacturing hub and business park.

Lionsgate will eventually combine a mixed-use retail precinct, café and museum, a central park named Lion Park, and a suite of precincts for engineering and construction, automotive companies, food, beverage and pharmaceuticals companies, and education, medical and recreational businesses.

“I don’t see us completing Lionsgate for at least another five to 10 years, because it will need to keep changing to meet 21st century manufacturing needs,” says Ross. “I can see that we will be pulling down some existing buildings to construct new buildings that incorporate innovative and intelligent elements in their design that best suit modern machinery and tenants.

“I talk about the future vision in this way because Pelligra will be here for the long haul. I believe the steps we have taken at Lionsgate will encourage other developers to look at opportunities in SA and adopt the same positive outlook.”

The Lionsgate development also signals the start of continuing investment in SA by the Pelligra Group, which is building a new complex to support Sanjeev Gupta’s Whyalla rejuvenation, including $45 million in a four-star ocean-view hotel.

Ross Pelligro says the company is only weeks away from finalising plans with council, then will start the selection process for architects and discussions with major hotel brands as operator tenants.

“I believe our willingness to invest will stimulate more investment to come into SA,” he adds.

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

Throughout the months of January and February, the state’s trade and investment industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is in a prime position for trade and investment opportunities as we have a 24-hour connection to international markets and a prime reputation for our premium products and services.  Read more trade and investment stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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German battery giant to create 430 manufacturing jobs for SA

A German energy storage giant has chosen the former Holden car factory in Adelaide’s northern suburbs as the centre of its Australian operations.

Sonnen will assemble and manufacture 50,000 energy storage systems at the site over the next five years, creating about 430 manufacturing and installation jobs for South Australia.

The company’s plans to establish a battery production plant in Adelaide were initially announced in February 2018, when the location was still under consideration.

Sonnen will set up its Australian headquarters at the former Holden manufacturing plant and begin assembling its world-leading home battery technology.

Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister David Ridgway says the new manufacturing centre will become sonnen’s central shipping facility for Australia and the Asia and South Pacific region.

“The State Liberal Government is delighted that sonnen has decided to make Adelaide the centre of its Australian operations and the jobs that will deliver for South Australians,” he says.

“Manufacturing has been a key foundation of SA’s economy for decades and this is set to continue on the back of leading companies like sonnen establishing an advanced manufacturing presence in our state.”

The State Government says the rollout of the battery systems combined with rooftop solar is expected to “provide significant savings to household electricity bills”.

The sonnen news follows the State Government’s announcement of its $100m Home Battery Scheme.

The scheme is set to provide 40,000 SA households with access to grants up to $6000 to pay for the installation of home battery systems.

Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann says SA has a new reputation for being the centre of energy policy in Australia.

“We are very excited to begin manufacturing in SA for the Australian and export markets and anticipate Australia will become the world’s number one market for energy storage systems,” he says.

Sonnen runs a virtual power plant in Germany, where thousands of households are connected with a photovoltaic system (PV) and storage system, forming the decentralised sonnenCommunity.

“As the sonnenBatterie can charge and discharge up to three times a day, it is ideal once battery numbers reach a certain level, to form a virtual power plant capable of supplying energy to the grid on days of high demand,” Christoph says.

“50,000 storage systems will be able to draw down energy stored in the batteries to supply up to 150 megawatts of electricity to the grid, which is the equivalent of a gas-fired peaking power station.”

Header image: sonnen, Facebook.

I Choose SA for Advanced Manufacturing stories are made possible by City of Salisbury:

Industry in focus: Advanced Manufacturing

Throughout the month of September, the state’s advanced manufacturing industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

As SA transforms away from traditional manufacturing processes, innovative and sophisticated products and services are taking their place, creating new jobs and investment opportunities for the state. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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National Motor Museum to show off Holden history … from the ceiling

By Melissa Keogh

South Australia’s proud car-making history will live on through an exhibition set to hang from the ceiling at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood.

The Adelaide Hills museum and the History Trust of SA has already begun preparing for the permanent exhibit to be unveiled at the Bay to Birdwood classic car rally in September.

Six cars are expected to be suspended from the ceiling in the museum, replicating assembly line stations from GM Holden’s Elizabeth plant which will close in October.

Each station will feature a vehicle at different stages of assembly through to a fully assembled car.

The final car in the display will be the ‘signature car’, signed by hundreds of recent and current Holden Elizabeth plant workers.

The social history of the state’s automotive manufacturing industry will also be on show through digital displays, while an app will be developed to support visitors’ experience.

An education program focused on science, technology, engineering, maths and social history outcomes will also be established.

Holden workers will have their stories retold through the suspended exhibition set to open by September.

Holden workers will have their stories retold through the suspended exhibition set to open by September. SOURCE: GM Holden Media.

“The (re)assembled exhibition gives the past a future now and its spectacular presentation assists us tell the all-important story of the people behind automotive manufacturing,” says National Motor Museum director Paul Rees.

“I am particularly pleased that the final car in the display is what’s called the ‘signature car’, which has been signed by hundreds of recent and current workers from the Elizabeth plant.”

The $600,000 project will include contributions from GM Holden, the National Motor Museum and in-kind construction support from northern Adelaide companies.

The State Government will contribute $110,000 towards the permanent display, while $20,000 will come from Arts South Australia.

GM Holden corporate affairs manager SA Sophie Milic says the display will be a tribute to the people, skills and engineering capabilities that contributed to the State’s car making industry.

“Our people are building the best cars we’ve ever built and this display will be a permanent reminder of the quality and care they have shown.”

Automotive Transformation Minister Kyam Maher says SA has a “very proud” history of car manufacturing and the museum would play an important role in documenting the story.

“For over 50 years, generations of South Australians have worked in the automotive industry, and we should be proud that we are one of only 13 countries who can build cars from scratch,” he says.

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