A $1.6 billion civic makeover of the heart of the city of Parramatta has been abandoned, Fairfax Newspapers has reported.
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Parramatta City Council and property developer Grocon Pty Ltd announced yesterday that they had decided to end a 2006 agreement to create Civic Place, a mixed-use project which would have transformed the area nearby the Parramatta Railway Station and become one of Sydney’s biggest urban renewal projects.
Under the original agreement, Grocon was to build a three-hectare retail, commercial and residential project on council land while the city was set to receive a range of new civic amenities including a library, art gallery, expansive piazzas and other facilities.
The project had previously encountered hurdles after Parramatta City Council lost a 2009 High Court case against two shop owners regarding compulsorily acquiring their properties. A settlement was reached with the men last year after the former state government changed the law to make it easier to acquire land.
Still, no development application was lodged and the project never got off the ground, the Fairfax report says. Moreover, both Grocon and the city eventually agreed that the project had become unviable in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Neither Grocon nor the council – both citing a confidentiality clause – would say whether or not Grocon had received any compensation for money it had already spent. Because of this, along with indications from the council that it has yet to quantity the amount of money it spent, the total cost of the project to taxpayers is not known.
”My gut feeling is we are ahead but I have not done the calculations’,’ says Parramatta lord mayor Lorraine Wearne, alluding to hopes that, despite the project’s cancellation, land acquired by the council would appreciate in value.
Despite the project’s collapse, Wearne says the council remains committed to the redevelopment of the city’s centre – albeit likely in smaller stage projects with multiple developers.
”Civic Place must proceed,” she said.