After 18 months’ worth of delays due to a number of setbacks, James Packer’s $2 billion Crown Barangaroo is on the way to being Sydney, Australia‘s second casino as it received final approval from the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) on Tuesday.
After the community, local councils, and design professionals expressed serious concerns about the project, the NSW Department of Planning had requested a number of changes be made to the original proposal, including a significant reduction in the podium that houses the 271 metre tower and the creation of an observation deck on the 65th floor of the 71 level tower to be open to the public. Other recommendations included reducing the size of the licensed ground floor area of the hotel, conducting a lighting survey to evaluate the impact on the nearby Sydney Observatory, and restricting the number of operating hours on the ground and outdoor floor areas of the hotel.
After some initial resistance regarding the reduction of the podium, all of the concerns were worked out by Crown Resorts and it fully complied with all of the recommendations. The conclusion that the PAC’s independent three-panel group came to in its determination statement regarding the design changes was that the “proposed scale and form of Crown Sydney will be a sculptural and elegant signature building on the foreshore,” and, “These changes combine to provide for a significant increase in the area of public domain — of some 4500 square metres compared to the original proposals,” as reported by news.com.au.
The PAC’s approval comes on the heels of Crown’s announcement earlier this month regarding their plan to separate the majority of their non-Australian located businesses from their domestics. This year, Crown reduced its stake in Melco Crown Ltd, a joint venture between Crown Resorts and Lawrence Ho’s HKEx listed Melco International Development Ltd., to just over 27%.
Packer owns 53 percent of the Melbourne-based Crown Resorts Ltd. Since winning support in 2013 from the O’Farrell government, several revisions have been made to the controversial project. Once the NSW Government gives the green light for construction, Crown Resorts will be able to proceed without further delay and is expected to be open by 2021. Plans for the resort include a luxury “six star” hotel, with more than 300 rooms and suites, apartments, shops, bars, VIP gaming rooms, and conference facilities.