| 10.05,12. 05:42 AM |
Tall tale of tower ambition at Circular Quay
May 10, 2012
A PROPOSAL to knock down an iconic Circular Quay landmark and replace it with a super-sized luxury residential tower will be decided by City of Sydney Council tonight as the race to build high-rise towers in the precinct gathers pace.
Residents and architects are worried council has already endorsed the high-rise project largely because it provided a "laneway" and "public art".
US private equity giant Blackstone Group wants to knock down Goldfields House on Alfred St, opposite the historic waterfront First Fleet Park, and replace it with two towers.
One is 185m tall, nearly double the existing building's size, and well above nearby buildings.
It comes after The Daily Telegraph revealed plans by AMP for a "Toaster on steroids" adjacent the Opera House.
The Blackstone proposal will be heard tonight by the central Sydney planning committee, chaired by Lord Mayor Clover Moore. The tower plans have already been endorsed by the City of Sydney, which has even raised its height limits for Circular Quay buildings south of the Cahill Expressway by 75m - or almost 70 per cent - to accommodate the proposal.
Part of the reason for the in-principle endorsement of the plan appears to lie in it including a laneway. Ms Moore has campaigned for Sydney to replicate Melbourne's laneway culture.
The voluntary planning agreement for the site between the council and Blackstone reveals the trade-off central to council's endorsement of the tower "is to secure publicly accessible open space, streets, lanes" as well as "pieces of public art".
Penelope Seidler, widow of architect Harry Seidler, said the council had made too many "trade-offs" in the Circular Quay precinct.
Architect Darrel Conybeare said the plans needed to be "properly studied" given the proximity to First Fleet Park: "It is a fairly major change in the urban environment that's opposite Australia's birthplace as a European culture."
A City of Sydney spokesman said last night: "By extending upwards, the block has much more quality public open space, including a new public plaza and a lively and engaging new laneway network."
There has been no increase in floor space on the block."