The Star Entertainment Group is weighing up its options on the future of the proposed six-star Ritz-Carlton after the current plan was rejected last week, fundamentally due to the project’s over towering form.
The setback for the $530 million luxury hotel comes after negative feedback from the public, backed by the Department of Planning which recommended the tower not be authorised for approval. LATTE readers will recall the Ritz-Carlton Sydney’s potential height concern as we flagged exclusively in November last year.
Last week, the Department argued the hotel tower, at 237 metres, was more than 100 metres taller than the next tallest structure on the western side of Darling Harbour – the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour hotel. The Ritz-Carlton would have also been the second largest tower in the precinct, standing just 16 metres shorter than the Crown Hotel Resort at Barangaroo that’s under development.
Since LATTE’s original article in November, a number of modifications to the project had been proposed. Among the vast paperwork submitted to the government was the suggestion that the Ritz-Carlton would become an iconic landmark in its own right.
The Architectural Design Statement submitted by fjmt studio late last year, referred to the structure as a “great hotel city landmark” (see extract below).
“This will be a great landmark hotel, a building that gives further identity to Pyrmont and Sydney. Like the great hotel of other cities, this hotel will provide a visitor and public focus for Sydney,” the design statement said, comparing it to the likes of the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard on London’s Southbank and The Plaza Hotel opposite Central Park in New York City.
“This new Ritz Carlton hotel will be a similar public landmark destination for Sydney. It’s publicly accessible spaces and grand rooms, bars, restaurants, facilities and dramatic views to the Harbour and City will make it an incomparable destination.”
The Department however declared last week that the project was too bulky, at odds with the predominantly low-to-medium rise built form of Pyrmont, was “overly dominant”, and its scale would be “out of character with its immediate context”.
A spokesperson for The Star told LATTE the company was “extremely disappointed with the recommendation”.
“Sydney needs hotels. Sydney needs new and refreshed tourism infrastructure or risk losing international visitors to other states, other countries. We want to spend half a billion dollars on helping NSW increase its appeal to the inbound visitor market.
In all there were 83 objections from the public, which The Star says is well below other major projects.
“The Star will always continue to support tourism. For now, we will take time to review the report and the Department’s position, and consider the avenues and other opportunities available to us.”
“We will continue to push on with plans and take our proposal to the IPC [Independent Planning Commission],” LATTE was advised.
This week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was confident the Government will reach an “acceptable position” for the hotel development.
“I want to see Sydney maintain its status, and in fact enhance its status, as a place to do business, as a place where we see progress, and of course we’ve got to follow all the proper guidelines, and I’m confident we’ll get to a place where there’s compromise,” Berejiklian said.