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    Global search for Barangaroo Central designers begins

    Geraldine Chua

    The NSW government is seeking investment partners and designers for Barangaroo Central, with registrations of interest now open for the community and civic precinct of the $6 billion, 22 hectare urban renewal project on Sydney’s harbour.

    Launched last night at a Tourism and Transport forum event, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said the search for proposals will be a competitive process “to bring forward the best and most innovative ideas from around the world”.

    Early interest is expected to come from Land Lease, developer of Barangaroo’s commercial precinct Barangaroo South, as well China’s Greenland Group, which is currently bringing up Sydney’s tallest tower designed by BVN and Woods Bagot.

    The Barangaroo Delivery Authority also welcomes submissions from those interested in making Central Barangaroo their new address, financing development, or purchasing completed projects. All land is subject to 99 year leases.

    Key features for the three hectare public and cultural space include a new $27 million, 300 metre long pedestrian promenade giving the public access to the water’s edge.

    A new urban theatre and passage linking Barangaroo to Observatory Hill, to be called the Sydney Steps, will also be a part of Barangaroo Central.

    Artist's impression of Sydney Steps at Barangaroo Central

    These plans are part of modifications made to the site’s master plan last year, which doubled the floor area of buildings to 120,000 sqm – extra floor space the government hopes will yield a further $150 million to the return on the site, in line with its desire to build the community precinct at no cost to the state.

    According to Premier O’Farrell, this current plan, which reserves three hectares of waterfront land for the active public and cultural space, will fulfil the government’s commitment to deliver more than 50 per cent of public space at Central Barangaroo.

    Artist's impression of the Urban Theatre

    However, the changes have not been well-received by the industry, with the Australian Institute of Architects claiming public space was being “moved around to suit private interests”, primarily James Packer’s hotel resort that will be built on a spot previously meant for a public park.

    Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has also expressed disappointment that the buildings were not reserved for the state government, telling the AFR that while nothing is “fundamentally wrong” with a mixed-use site, “the open space implies a civic opportunity that was almost too good for commercial purposes.”

    Stage one of Barangaroo Central’s public domain works is expected to be completed in 2015, with all works finished by 2021. 

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