Archive | July, 2010

Retail goes upmarket in CBD

21 Jul

June 14, 2010

The revamped Pitt Street Mall soon will be home to many high-end retailers, writes Carolyn Cummins.

The facade at the corner of Market and Pitt Street. To be ready for the October 2010 mall opening (pic- JWA)

It is being played like a game of musical chairs but by the time the work is finished, Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall and the surrounding streets will be a who’s who of retailers. And rents will rise accordingly. Once the new stores open, rents are tipped to double from their present levels of about $8000 a square metre.

But the list of occupants is unlikely to boast overseas fashion names such as Zara and H&M, which prefer their own stand-alone flagship stores as opposed to being in an enclosed shopping mall.

Zara, whose head office is in Spain, is said to be using Solomon Lew as its co-agent in Australia and is looking at a number of sites in the CBD. So far it has not signed any leasing deals in Australia.

However, shoppers who like the US chain Gap will be pleased to hear that it has signed for an 800-square-metre shop within the new Westfield Sydney.

The same scene in July 2010. Showing the pedestrian bridge that has just been demolished.

BusinessDay has seen a list of the new retailers to have signed up for the centre and it includes the majority of tenants which used to be in Centrepoint and the Imperial Arcade.

The new Skygardens Castlereagh Street elevation (pic- JWA).

Interior of the 85 Castlereagh Street tower lobby, looking up. To be ready for the February 2012 opening (pic- JWA).

The 85C skylobby at retail level 7 (pic- JWA).

A Coach store selling upmarket bags and some apparel will open on the corner of Pitt and Market streets.

Nespresso, Tag Heuer watches and Guess will open on the ground level of Pitt Street Mall.

At 182 Pitt Street is the former Emporio shoes site in the building which the Goddard family, declined to sell to Westfield. That site will be redeveloped next year.

The 85C tower on the skyline (pic- JWA).

Next door, within the Westfield complex, will be Esprit, Cue and Sportsgirl.

Westfield’s leasing team has created an upmarket strip on Castlereagh Street, opposite David Jones, having secured Prada, Gucci and Zegna.

On Market Street, with both David Jones stores nearby, will be a Mui Mui store.

On the upper levels of Westfield there will be a Thomas Dux supermarket, run by Woolworths to take on the David Jones food hall.

Discussions are also under way for a signature chef, such as Gordon Ramsay, to open a restaurant.

The stockbroker JPMorgan and Westfield staff will move into the planned skyscraper at 85 Castlereagh Street, atop the former Imperial Arcade.

Former tenants in that arcade, including Borders book store, are returning. JB Hi-Fi is looking to open a new ”wi-fi” concept store.

One of the favourites of city workers, the Sky Phoenix Chinese restaurant, has also re-signed in the redevelopment.

Christian Dior is rumoured to be taking the Louis Vuitton site on the corner of Castlereagh and King streets, while Bottega Veneta, Christian Louboutin and Mulberry are looking for prime sites.

Knight Frank’s associate director of retail leasing, Alex Alamsyah, said an influx of high-profile international retailers was inevitable and could transform the CBD.

”The level of refurbishment and redevelopment activity currently in progress is opening up many opportunities for big fashion brands and will help put Sydney on the map as an international retail destination,” Mr Alamsyah said.

“Whether it be through the granting of licensing or franchising arrangements, as is the case with Gap and Victoria’s Secret, for example, or alternatively the rollout of corporate-owned stores such as Esprit and Louis Vuitton, it is clear that Sydney CBD is a global hotspot for the upper echelon of major international fashion brands.

“And the current wave of new projects means these brands have the opportunity to make their play.”

While retail landlords and shoppers alike would love to see more overseas retailers there are a few hurdles that need to be overcome before some of the international fashion retailers – such as Forever 21, Uniqlo and Abercrombie & Fitch – can enter the domestic market.

But these stores are said to be keen to establish a presence.

Mr Alamsyah said that for the past decade Sydney had been on the radar of numerous big fashion brands, yet certain barriers had prevented them from setting up shop.

“First, our seasons differ from the northern hemisphere, which affects fashion retailers significantly. Second, our location generally incurs higher shipping costs from major distribution points and there are comparatively high import duties on clothing and shoes, and finally, wages and rentals are higher in Australia, making it harder to launch a new brand here in comparison,” he said.

Josh Loudoun, CB Richard Ellis’s regional director of retail services for Australia and New Zealand, said the concerns for the international brands were that they wanted space of up to 2000 square metres as a standalone flagship, such as the Apple store in the city.

A section through the retail and 85C tower (pic- Culwulla).

”There are affordability issues as Australian retail landlords charge very high occupancy costs which, when combined with high wages, import taxes and currency movements, the return in investments for these groups sometimes does not stack up,” Mr Loudoun said. But he said despite the hurdles, many were in talks about opening here.

Opposite the Westfield centre there are other moves afoot, with the jeweller Angus & Coote taking Witchery’s former space in Sydney Central Plaza.

Hype DC has signed a new lease at Mid City facing George Street and also at 239 Pitt Street. General Pants has a new lease at Mid City and wants to leave Glasshouse; Strandbags has renewed its lease at the Strand Arcade; and Jurlique’s space at the Strand is available for lease as it has moved to Mid City facing George Street.

Additionally, restaurants including Golden Century and Kam Fook Yum Cha are taking leases at Star City casino and Sydney Airport respectively, while the first Godiva and Victoria’s Secret stores have opened at Sydney’s international terminal.

Images- Copyright JWA Architects


Harold Park plan one third park

19 Jul

Local News16 Jul 10 @ 04:58pm by staff

More than a third of the Harold Park Paceway site in Glebe could become park under draft planning controls soon to be considered by Sydney Council.

The plans include 3.9 hectares of park with a sports field, walking paths and a cycle link to Johnston’s Creek and the Glebe foreshore.

Sydey Council’s CEO Monica Barone said the overwhelming request from locals was for parkland.

During extensive consultation the community told us they wanted improved local village facilities, new open space, protection for the historic Tram Sheds and opportunities for the development to be sustainable. This is what we hope to deliver,” Ms Barone said.Ms Barone said plans would allow for the restoration of the historic tram sheds and would allocate 500 sqm of floor space for community uses within the sheds.

Some 1,200 dwellings would be housed on the land, with at least 50 affordable housing units. Maximum height would be eight storeys, no higher than the cliff-top 2-3 storey terrace houses in Glebe.

The Council believes the plan balances community requests while helping the council to meet residential and worker targets set by the State Government.

Access to the Jubilee Park light rail station will be improved, giving residents a valuable and sustainable transport optionThe draft planning controls will be considered at Central Sydney Planning Committee on July 22 and by Council on July 26.
Locals will then have another chance to voice an opinion on the plans.
NSW Harness Racing Club Chief Executive John Dumesny told Cumberland Courier Newspapers that his organisation which owns the site could not accept the increased demand for open space.
“For the past few months we have been advised by the Council that the Club would have to provide new open space areas as part of the rezoning, which we were happy to assist with,” he said, “however this amount of space seems excessive to the needs of the area.”
The plans have also failed to impress the Greens. City of Sydney Greens Councillor Chris Harris told the Courier he would not be voting for the plans.
“I thought 1,000 apartments was already excessive,” Cr Harris said.
“I applaud the council’s efforts to improve the amount of public space, but I wouldn’t be trading this off with an overdevelopment.”


Sydney Harbour foreshore development slammed

19 Jul

Jennifer Macey, July 8, 2010

ELEANOR HALL: Preliminary work started today on the Barangaroo project on one of Sydney’s last remaining harbour foreshore development sites.

The $6 billion dollar development has been described as one of the most ambitious waterfront projects in Australia.

But it has been controversial from the start with debates over its name, the scope of the development and the design and size of its proposed hotel tower as Jennifer Macey reports:

JENNIFER MACEY: There are a couple of joggers and walkers heading around the harbour foreshore at the Barangaroo site in Sydney between The Rocks and Darling Harbour.

This undeveloped section of Sydney’s harbour foreshore is a 22 hectare concrete slab that used to be a car park. It juts out towards the water from the edge of the CBD.

Those that do stop to talk to The World Today aren’t sure of the scale or details of the development proposals. But they all say they want part of the site left open to the public.

VOX POP 1: I think it’s a great idea to actually do something that the public can use down here. I think you know it is actually a beautiful spot and when Patricks were here you didn’t even realise you know how nice it was.

So if they do something that everyone can use I think that’s a great thing.

VOX POP 2: They haven’t really come out with what they’re going to do yet. And hopefully they’re not just going to like put a bunch of business blocks on it because I think it’s too good a view to waste.

JENNIFER MACEY: The developers Lend Lease have now been given permission to start preparing the Barangaroo site before building can begin.

The CEO of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority John Tabart says a fence has been set up so that the foreshore walk can stay open to the public.

JOHN TABART: So Lend Lease will have access to a portion of the Barangaroo area. The foreshore walk will track around their occupation allowing the public to continue and the cyclists and joggers to continue to use the waterfront walk, albeit interrupted by the construction works in some of its perimeter.

JENNIFER MACEY: While construction work is expected to begin later this year the developers Lend Lease have had to change their concept plan due to public opposition.

The amended project will now have three rather than four office towers and the hotel tower on the edge of the water has been pushed back and lost a few stories.

The development of Sydney’s last remaining prime waterfront real estate has attracted heated debate in the city.

Community groups, town planners, even former prime minister Paul Keating have offered their suggestions for the site.

Architect Paul Berkemeier is from the firm that won the initial design competition.

PAUL BERKEMEIER: Well it’s a totally different development from that which was the prize winning competition entry. And well there’s a lot more buildings that’s going to go up. And the public parklands are very much subservient to the interests of the development itself and the buildings.

JENNIFER MACEY: There’s a lot of discussion about whether or not the cruise ship terminal should be there, how high the buildings are there. What do you make of that considering it is such a significant site for Sydney?

PAUL BERKEMEIER: Well unfortunately everything is really being given away. The public interest is being given away to maximise the return for the development itself, both to the developer and to the government.

So things like the cruise ship terminal which are a valuable piece of public infrastructure are being moved away because they would occupy space otherwise that could be used for development.

JENNIFER MACEY: Last week the National Trust put forward an alternative design plan which would see the cruise passenger terminal kept on the site rather than moving to another part of the harbour.

The trust’s spokesman Scott Woodcock says this design is more in line with the maritime heritage values of the former wharf.

SCOTT WOODCOCK: The best way to interpret the rich and diverse maritime heritage at Millers Point is to retain the cruise ships at Barangaroo.

And Millers Point offers the ideal location for a cruise ship berth. It’s a secure location, probably the most secure location west of the Harbour Bridge. And it’s within 750 metres of the overseas passenger terminal, so within walking distance of The Rocks and light rail will go right to the back door.

JENNIFER MACEY: Architect Paul Berkemeier says he’s lost hope that the site will be subject to significant changes.

PAUL BERKEMEIER: The decisions made to have the single proponent, the single developer, the fact that the development, the increase in the quantum of development has gone up so radically is now, I think it’s locked in.

And I think inevitably it’ll all be fast tracked so that all the commitments are there irreversible before the next state election.

ELEANOR HALL: That’s Paul Berkemeier whose architecture firm won the initial design competition for Barangaroo.

Jennifer Macey reporting


NSW Government's 'Green Way' Plan Ready for Submission

19 Jul

AAP Monday, July 19, 2010

SYDNEY—A proposed light rail expansion through inner west Sydney will include the city’s first so-called “GreenWay” for cyclists, joggers and walkers, the NSW government says.

Premier Kristina Keneally said the government would on Monday submit its planning application for the expansion, which would add 10km of light rail track through Leichhardt to Dulwich Hill.

The multi-billion extension was announced in February’s Transport Blueprint, and would take existing city services from Lilyfield along a disused rail line.

It would also include a mixed use “GreenWay” for the public, Ms Keneally said.

“The new GreenWay is a first for Sydney it will ensure the corridor has a mixed use for families, commuters, cyclists, walkers and joggers,” Ms Keneally said.

“People will be able to walk or cycle from the Cooks River to Iron Cove, through Canterbury, Marrickville, Ashfield and Leichhardt Council areas

“We want to ensure the corridor can benefit the whole community with the incorporation of a cycling and walking path, as well as retain critical bushcare sites along the extension.”

Nine stations were named as part of the planning application, including Leichhardt North, Lewisham West, and Dulwich Grove.

Should it get planning approval, the new service will be up and running in two years, Ms Keneally said.

The extended inner-west line is part of the government’s $500 million light rail expansion plans for Sydney, which also include a new link between Central Station and Circular Quay.


Govt releases Sydney light rail proposal

May 17, 2010 AAP

The NSW Government has released a draft study into a planned multi-million dollar light rail extension through Sydney’s inner-west.

Construction is likely to begin by the end of the year.

The 10km light rail extension to Dulwich Hill was announced in February’s Transport Blueprint and would take existing city services from Lilyfield along a disused rail line.

Ten possible stations have been named as part of the pre-construction study, including stops on Norton and Marion streets in Leichhardt, and a Lewisham interchange.

The government is now calling for public comment on the study.

“We invite the community to have a look at the proposed stations, have a look at the proposed interchanges, have a look at the route … and give us their feedback,” Premier Kristina Keneally told reporters at Lilyfield station on Monday.

Public submissions close on June 7, with the government expected to lodge its environmental assessment later that month.

The government hopes rail services will begin 18 months from the start of construction, tentatively slated for later this year.

The extended inner-west line is part of the government’s $500 million light rail expansion plans for Sydney, which also include a new link between Central Station and Circular Quay.

The draft report is available at

© 2010 AAP


Ode to a Sydney brick: how cult of renovation is destroying our past

10 Jul

July 10, 2010`SMH

In the quickie renovation, especially one with an eye to the rental market, there is one interior improvement considered so acutely necessary than it comes even before the replacement of brass fittings with stainless steel ones or the stripping of carpets: getting rid of the bricks.

The war against bricks has now expanded beyond the exposed brick feature wall to postwar bricks of all sorts, interior and exterior. In the worst blocks in the best suburbs, bodies corporate are banding together to render away the recent daggy past.

Brick blocks of blazing orange, dirty-dog yellow and mud-pie brown are smoothed over with concrete in a range of shades all the way from grey to beige.

As for freestanding houses, online renovation forums are full of advice for hiding the earthen offerings of the 1970s. Renderers make big promises about the profits to be gained from smoothing away all those rough edges and explosions of glaze. Even the display home villages have entered a post-neo-Federation phase, with smoothly iced exteriors dominating.

Concern about the mottled terracotta tones of our city began long ago. The theme was taken up in the 1960s in an essay by the writer Charmian Clift, entitled On Painting Bricks White, first published in the Herald and the Age.

Clift was writing with the fresh eyes of a woman who had not long ago returned to Sydney after living on the Greek island of Hydra with her husband, the novelist George Johnston, and their children. One thing she saw with those fresh eyes was the cacophony of brick which so offends us now.

”How in all the world do Australian brick manufacturers manage so many variations on such a painful chromatic theme?” she asked. She noted the ”splenetic bricks, liverish bricks, apoplectic bricks, bibulous bricks (those purplish ones like old drunks’ noses), and bricks which appear to have been steeped before baking in the pancreatic juices for a special variegated effect”.

Above- some art deco brick examples from the inner east. For more images go to-

She suggested a temporary solution, one gleaned from her time in Greece. ”I know it’s a daring suggestion, but I’ll make it anyway. Might not a poultice of whitewash reduce the inflammation of our brick areas also?”

If only she was still alive to see how thoroughly this idea had been embraced. But in the wholesale whitewashing of brick constructions of the recent past, are we solving the mistakes of the past or repeating them?

No one will ever shed a tear for the developer-driven abominations which are now being tarted up, but how many of the thoughtful designs of the 1960s and 1970s are being destroyed, too? Many of the finest examples of the Sydney school of architecture embraced the very techniques which are now so on the nose, such as rough brick and exposed beams.

As Clift noted in her essay, there is nothing wrong with bricks per se, they are a ”good honest form of building material”. It is how they have been used which makes them a problem.

She also mentioned she has ”just been reading Robin Boyd”, something a lot of people, including myself, have been doing again since The Australian Ugliness was republished a few months ago. As Boyd’s biting classic makes clear, the Australian Ugliness is not about a particular material. It is about the inability of Australians to commit to an idea and hold tight to something more enduring than fashion. It is about the flight to trappings and features rather than cohesive design.

And in this respect one passage is as relevant now to the cult of renovation for short-term economic gain as it was when it was written in 1960: ”Not prepared to recognise where, when or what he is living, the Australian consciously and subconsciously directs his artificial environment to the uncommitted, tentative, temporary, a nondescript economic-functionalist background on which he can hang the feature which for the moment appeal to his wandering, restless eye.”

There will come a day when renovators of the future view the renovators of today with the same horror as we view the renovators of yesterday, the ones who hid lustrous floorboards under nylon carpet and replaced bay windows with aluminium ones. It is hard to imagine it now, but they will curse us all as they spend weekends carefully chiselling away at rendering with the care of archaeologists, wondering how anyone could have failed to see the beauty of earthy, honest brick.