A new 38-storey skyscraper that will overshadow South Australia’s Parliament has only just been announced but is already dividing political opinions, with the state government labelling it “beautiful” and the Greens instead lambasting it as a “monstrosity”.

The new Walker Corporation development will become one of the tallest towers in Adelaide’s CBD, reaching 149 metres — dwarfing the three-storey retail building originally planned for the site.

The state government today announced the elevated design for the building, which will be adjacent to an existing tower at the Festival Plaza site.

Minister for Housing and Urban Development Nick Champion told ABC Radio Adelaide the skyscraper was “a good deal for a growing state”.

“What this second tower does is supercharge the economic, social and cultural life of that plaza,” he said.

SA Housing and Urban Development Minister Nick Champion said the finished building would have “true cultural importance”.(ABC News)

He said the new tower would have a smaller footprint than the three-storey design, allowing for an extra 800 square metres of public space than previously planned.

“What we will have is a whole lot of people not just looking at the building, but looking out of it, and I think that’s when the true cultural importance of this building will really come into view,” Mr Champion said.

“Most importantly we will have a lot of office workers there providing a whole lot of life and activity for the retail and hospitality offerings.”

The state government said Walker Corporation has a “long lease” on the land.(Supplied: SA Government)

The plans include 36 floors of commercial office space, a glass foyer, and two floors for food and beverage retail.

There is also the option for 3,000 square metres of public civic space across four levels which could, the government said, be used for cultural events and performances.

“I think this will be really actually quite a beautiful place to go … this is going to be a place that improves the Riverbank precinct,” Mr Champion said.

A three-storey building was originally planned for the site.(Supplied: SA Government)

He said the Walker Corporation had a “long lease” on the land, which it is paying to develop.

Cabinet has approved an agreement to pursue the development, but it still requires planning approval.

Mr Champion said that, subject to those approvals, work on the project would create 1,300 construction and associated jobs during the build, which is expected to start next year and be completed by mid-2027.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas unveils the new Festival Plaza tower.(ABC News: Rory McClaren)

Premier Peter Malinauskas said the new development showed the state was “growing up”.

“This new tower speaks to the growing confidence in South Australia, which now has the lowest unemployment rate in the country,” he said.

‘Monstrosity’ is a ‘dud deal’, Greens say

Greens planning spokesperson Robert Simms told ABC Radio Adelaide he was “shocked and disappointed” by the scale of the proposal.

“I just think it’s a dud deal for the people of South Australia,” he said.

“It just demonstrates actually that our planning system is about the interests of developers rather than the interests of the community as a whole.”

Robert Simms described the building as a “monstrosity”.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

He said the area was a “key civic space” which would now be dominated by a “monstrosity”.

“If ever there was a symbol of the power of developers in our democracy, this is it: the Walker Corporation totally dominating Festival Plaza,” he said.

“Surely there could have been a better use for that space found by the government.”

Opposition spokeswoman for urban development Michelle Lensink said there was already a glut of unused office space in Adelaide, and called for the business case for the project to be provided.

“We need to bear in mind, too, that this is public land — it’s parklands and it’s special so we do need to be making the best possible case for that space,” she said.

Adelaide Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith said she was “disappointed” more office building stock was being created in the city.

“There are already such significant office vacancies in the city post COVID and with so many people still working from home,” she said.

“There is genuine concern that this sort of development will damage the value of existing investment, while the location of such a large tower on this public land is overwhelming.”

The new proposal towers over what was previously planned.( Supplied: SA Government.)

But Urban Development Institute chief executive Liam Golding said Festival Plaza was a “prime location”, and that now was the time to build.

“We have a very low unemployment rate, we know we have opportunities with the state government building new industries in defence, in mining and clean energy,” he said.

“That’s going to hopefully lead to a population increase and more jobs so in the medium term I hope that we will be needing more office space, not less.”

Walker Corporation managing director and chief executive David Gallant said the tower would be a “terrific outcome for Adelaide” and a fulfilment of the vision of the company’s late co-founder, Lang Walker.

“It reinforces Lang’s ultimate goal that Festival Plaza becomes one of the world’s most celebrated squares, ensuring it’s successfully activated seven days a week, all year round,” he said.