Bondi View

Ghost town’s revival plans

Moore Park’s Entertainment Quarter has competing plans to upgrade it from a ‘ghost town’. Photo: Supplied

By ALLISON HORE

Moore Park’s Entertainment Quarter is set for a face-lift, which developers say will “breathe new life into a ‘tired’ and ‘forgotten’ part of Sydney” and revitalise the precinct, which many think is like a ghost town.
Late last month leaseholders of the Entertainment Quarter, Carsingha Investments, made an unsolicited development proposal to the NSW Government. Their vision for the precinct includes four hectares of parkland, a fresh food market, eateries and bars, a wide pedestrian boulevard and a 4.5 star hotel.

Not reaching its potential
Guy Pahor, Chief Executive of the Entertainment Quarter, told City Hub that he thinks the Entertainment Quarter doesn’t attract enough foot traffic for the space to meet its potential. He said the key to the success of Carsingha’s proposal will be bringing in more people.
“Without a critical mass of people during the day and night, even the best designed public spaces will fail, as the previous 20 year history of The Entertainment Quarter clearly demonstrates,” he explained.
“Our plans include a vision of The Entertainment Quarter as a new employment hub for creative industries – reinforcing the adjacent Fox Studios enterprise and complemented by a new ‘education and innovation precinct’ centred around the existing Australian Film Television and Radio School.”

Pahor also confirmed that the plans for the Entertainment Quarter area will not include residential use, as it’s “not consistent” with the proposal’s focus on leisure, events, and entertainment.
Carsingha Investments, a consortium consisting of investors John Singleton, Gerry Harvey and Mark Carnegie, took out an 80-year lease on the entertainment quarter property in 2014 for $80 million. But after delays to start the redevelopment project, the consortium are meanwhile pushing to extend the lease to a 99-year one, with promise of $1.2 billion investment into the revitalisation of the precinct.

However, Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who has been championing the City of Sydney’s own master plan for the Moore Park area, told News Corp journalists that she finds the lack of transparency in the proposal process to be problematic. Carsingha’s proposal has proceeded to stage two without sufficient input from the community or council.
“20 million people visit the Centennial and Moore Parklands annually and three out of every four people living in the City of Sydney live in an apartment – Moore Park is their backyard,” she said.

But Pahor told City Hub that the planning process for the proposal was part of a “detailed master planning exercise” which involved input from relevant stakeholders.
“A key part of [the process] was early engagement with local community groups and key stakeholders – so as to understand their views and aspirations and to identify what they thought was wrong with the current precinct and what was needed.”

Further consideration needed
A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet confirmed that they received Carsingha’s proposal and said it was “of sufficient interest, and merit, to warrant further consideration.”
In line with the unsolicited proposals approval process, the commercial, technical and legal aspects of the proposal will now be examined in more detail by the government. A committee chaired by the Department of Premier and Cabinet will lead the assessment and decide whether or not the proposal will proceed to the next level.
The committee will also include representatives from NSW Treasury, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust.
The proposal is currently not available for public viewing.

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