The Star prepared to downsize Ritz-Carlton Sydney

Controversial luxury hotel willing to be chopped by 24 metres in order to win approval

The Star Entertainment Group will potentially reduce the height of its ultra-luxury hotel and residence project in Sydney’s Pyrmont by 24 metres to alleviate concerns of overshadowing.

The condition for the proposal was made to the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) by The Star’s Managing Director and CEO Matt Bekier, as it fights for a rubber stamp on its now 600-plus-million-dollar development. The IPC is reviewing the controversial Ritz-Carlton Sydney project after the state’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment rejected the 61-level project, citing issues relating to the structures strategic context, built form, design excellence and public benefits.

Last Friday [6 September, 2019], Bekier presented a compromise, telling the IPC’s Panel Chair Dianne Lesson in a letter that The Star “would be prepared to reduce the overall height of the tower” from the proposed 237 to 213 metres to address overshadowing concerns of Union Square. The suggestion was made “despite our confidence in the existing proposal and its limited environmental impact,” Bekier stated.

The flagged height reduction would reduce shadow impacts to Pyrmont Bay Park, Pyrmont Bridge and the Clifftop Walk, described by the department as “minor”, along with views of the structure from Martin Place in the city’s CBD.

It’s unclear how the reduction in height would impact the tally of the project’s planned 220 Ritz-Carlton hotel room and 204 residential apartments, but equates to around eight floors.

A comparison of the 237m versus the 213m high Ritz-Carlton Sydney submitted by The Star's Response to the Department's Assessment Report | Image Credit: FJMT
The Star Entertainment Group Managing Director and CEO, Matt Bekier

Bekier’s feedback coincided with the release of The Star’s response to the Department’s Assessment Report, which addresses all of the issues raised.

The Star Entertainment Group also now proposes to fund the development’s five-level Neighbourhood Centre until 2093, more than doubling its previous 30 year term, and valued at $80 million (at present day costs).

“In Queensland, we have a development pipeline of around $5 billion to further grow visitation and realise the latest tourism opportunity. We hope NSW will give us the opportunity to do the same here in Sydney.

“Let us be clear, there is no gaming infrastructure within this development. It is a tourism-led development, designed to help Sydney compete in an ultra-competitive sector against other Australian states and countries around the world,” Bekier concluded.

Concept image of the original Ritz-Carlton Hotel Sydney

Last month, Marriott International’s Vice President of Marketing, Asia Pacific, Bruce Ryde, told the IPC that The Star’s proposal for The Ritz-Carlton Sydney “ticks the boxes”.

“It’s a group of partners that are delivering for us as a brand – an iconic piece of architecture, a hotel that delivers against our very, very stringent and detailed standards, and an incredible location,” Ryde said.

The commission is expected to hand down its determination later this month.

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