The New South Wales Government has set aside two landmark buildings in Sydney’s CBD for tourism purposes when they are marketed to local and international investors later this year.
The state’s Minister for Finance and Services, Andrew Constance, said the tourism industry would be invited to register their interest in the Education and former Lands Buildings on Bridge Street as part of the NSW Government’s “commitment to increase the state’s overnight visitor expenditure”.
“We will be engaging a broad range of local and international parties who have the capacity to deliver world-class facilities and accommodation,” Constance said.
“This approach will create jobs, drive global tourism opportunities and boost the NSW economy.
“The sale of the Sandstone Buildings for tourism purposes will support the NSW Visitor Economy Taskforce, which has a goal to increase our overnight visitor expenditure from $18.3 billion in 2009 to $36.6 billion by 2020.
“Interest in these buildings is already strong – they have the potential for a range of high value tourism uses, are centrally located in the business district, close to Circular Quay and all transport services.
“Tourism industry research indicates that foreign investors have a strong preference for Sydney’s CBD as their entry point to Australia for investment.
“As part of the Registration of Interest stage, we will invite interested parties to provide details of their intended tourism use for the Sandstone Buildings. That will be used to form a detailed Expression of Interest phase in the New Year,” Constance said.
The Registration of Interest will be released by Macquarie Capital before Christmas, the Minister said.
An Expression of Interest campaign has already begun for the sale of the Ausgrid Building at 570 George Street, one that is expected to feature a hotel and luxury apartments once converted.
Constance said the divestment of non-core government assets is unlocking latent capital to boost much needed infrastructure and fund other essential services for taxpayers across the State.
“We will continue to identify assets suitable for divestment, returning sale proceeds to NSW taxpayers to fund more services and to drive the state’s economic growth,” he said.
The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) has applauded the decision of the NSW Government and CEO Ken Morrison said the buildings hold “massive potential”.
“There is strong interest from the tourism industry in these heritage buildings and the sector is keen to explore the opportunities they represent,” he said.
“Their location and history makes them extremely attractive as tourism assets, with the potential to deliver significant additional expenditure in the visitor economy.
“They could also add another dimension to Sydney’s premium accommodation stocks.
“Circular Quay and the surrounding precincts are a vital element of Sydney’s tourism offering and these two buildings could further develop that through accommodation, retail, dining and other elements.
“In addition, mandating tourism use will give the public access to these magnificent buildings for the first time.
“Sydney is Australia’s global city and assets like these rarely become available so the tourism industry commends the O’Farrell government on its decision to prefer tourism use.
“As the premier international gateway to Australia, additional accommodation capacity is vital to allow visitor numbers to continue growing and we look forward to working with the government through this process to deliver the best outcome for Sydney, New South Wales and Australia,” Morrison said.