The $6-billion Barangaroo development on Sydney Harbour was set to be the “Wall Street or Canary Wharf” of Australia and become a new centre for the country’s financial industry, a seminar on the project has been told.
Peter Collins, the former New South Wales Liberal Party leader who is the chair of the Sydney Financial Forum, said Barangaroo had the potential to rectify “two decades of slippage” during which Sydney’s status as a financial centre had fallen behind that of Singapore and Hong Kong, and Melbourne had made up ground as a centre for the superannuation industry.
“Part of the problem has been that we always thought Sydney would sell itself, but that did not happen,” said Collins. “So now is the time for us to focus on making it happen.”
Steve McCann, chief executive and managing director of Lend Lease, developer of the precinct known as Barangaroo South, said that the 6 hectare site his company is developing would house 23,000 office workers in three new towers, set to open in 2015 and 2016.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Sydney to recapture its leadership position in Australia and Southeast Asia,” said McCann.
Westpac and KPMG had already committed to taking significant space in two of the towers, along with Lend Lease. McCann said developers were already in discussions with a “cornerstone tenant” for tower three.
“We believe Barangaroo South will create 6000 new jobs in the financial services, retail and hospitality sectors,” said McCann.
He said Barangaroo South would set new standards for sustainable building, with the three towers set for six or seven green-star ratings. Ninety-six per cent of the workers in the precinct would arrive either by public transport or bicycle, and there would be sufficient space to park 1000 bikes.
“This all adds to productivity and employee engagement, because we see a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in absenteeism,” said McCann.
“If rent is usually 10 per cent of staff costs, then the added productivity from lower absenteeism can cut down costs considerably.”
Particular attention would be paid on Barangaroo’s “connectivity” to the rest of Sydney, an issue which had “plagued” London’s Canary Wharf precinct in its early years.
Master planners in place
On January 18 the Barangaroo Delivery Authority announced it had selected a team led by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) + Andersen Hunter Horne to complete the central Barangaroo master plan. The Chicago-based giant SOM teams up with Andersen Hunter Horne, a 10-year collaboration between the three offices of Danish landscape architect Jeppe Aagaard Andersen, Adam Hunter and Mike Horne of Australian companies Environmental Partnership and Turf Design Studio, respectively.
Skidmore, Owings and Merrell team leader, Phillip Enquist, said “Central Barangaroo’s architecture and public places can inspire the world. It can be a place for all Sydneysiders, and a place for the world to come to experience.”
Work has already begun.