Crown Sydney EDITED

Crown’s proposed AUD$1.5 billion casino and luxury hotel at Barangaroo South in Sydney has received backing from the NSW Government.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has this afternoon [Jul 4] announced the Government has conditionally accepted the proposal from James Packer’s Crown Limited, ahead of a rival $1.1 billion bid from Echo Entertainment, owner of The Star, which was revealed last week.

The approval doesn’t grant Packer a license to develop and build the 60-storey VIP casino and ‘six-star’ hotel, but it takes the proposal to ‘stage three’, effectively giving Crown the second casino license in Sydney from 2019.

O’Farrell’s Government made the decision after a recommendation of an independent steering committee, chaired by former chair of the Future Fund David Murray.

With the assistance of Deloitte Access Economics, the committee determined the Crown proposal would have a greater impact on the NSW economy than Echo’s bid in the order of 26% higher Gross State Product and 31% greater tax revenue.

The Crown proposal will head to stage three with an upfront licence fee of AUD$100 million and on the back of a number of exclusive conditions, including a ban on poker machines and low-bet tables, and gamblers will need to be members of Crown and will need to demonstrate a track record of VIP gaming at other casinos.

Other key conditions include: non-rebate gaming to be taxed at 29% [as opposed to Crown’s proposed 27.5%]; the total of licence fee and gaming tax payments to NSW over the first 15 years of full operation must exceed $1 billion (nominal), a guarantee Crown proposed for its alternate option; and the licence fee and tax would be independently reviewed after 20 years of operation.

The Premier’s office revealed he independent steering committee determined that “while both proposals offer value for NSW, the decisive factor was the opportunity to introduce competition into the market”.

The Government also said the independent steering committee found a competitive casino market would deliver “increased tourism and broader economic benefits for NSW”.

While the project might have moved to stage three, O’Farrell again reiterated the process “was not complete and an agreement has not been reached”.

His office said if an agreement is reached, “planning, regulatory and legislative approvals will be required, including the usual opportunity for public consultation”.

Packer said he was thrilled with the decision of the NSW Government.

“We are delighted that our Crown Sydney hotel resort has been selected by the New South Wales Government on the recommendation of the Independent Steering Committee chaired by David Murray to progress to the next stage of the Unsolicited Proposal process.

“This decision follows months of hard work by Crown to develop its proposal for an iconic six-star hotel resort on Sydney Harbour at Barangaroo South.

“The Crown proposal will give Sydney a landmark hotel it can be proud of. Barangaroo South represents a spectacular opportunity to showcase an iconic six-star hotel resort, which will be located on the Harbour’s best available site.

“Sydney is one of the world’s great cities; it deserves one of the world’s great hotels.

“I want this building to be instantly recognisable around the world and feature on postcards and memorabilia promoting Sydney. That’s how you attract international tourists, create jobs and put Sydney on the map.

“Crown has the track record and experience to deliver something very special for Sydneysiders and visitors from interstate and overseas. No other organisation can deliver this unique project.”

The announcement comes almost a year since Crown Limited signed an Exclusive Dealing Agreement with Lend Lease to develop plans for the VIP gaming facility and luxury hotel on the Sydney Harbour foreshore at Barangaroo South.

Packer then held a design competition with London-based Wilkinson Eyre Architects then named in mid-May as the winning design firm for the proposed development.

“When completed, Crown Sydney will be instantly recognisable around the world,” Packer said.

“Its iconic curves and fine lines celebrate the harbour and create an architectural ‘postcard’ that will help attract international tourists and assist Sydney to compete with other global destinations.”

The joint judging panel unanimously recommended the Wilkinson Eyre design to Crown, following an extended competition to design the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort.

The final three designs by internationally renowned architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and Wilkinson Eyre Architects were judged by a panel consisting of representatives from Crown Resorts, Lend Lease, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and the NSW Department of Planning.

To view a fly-through of the Crown Sydney proposal, click on the YouTube image below.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management