By ANNIE LEWIS
After nearly two decades of running a law firm in Pyrmont, one business owner is looking to the future more than the past and hopes to see the area flourish.
Rob McCourt, principal of McCourts Law Firm, believes the suburb and surrounds has an incredible amount of potential.
He rediscovered Pyrmont in 2002 by chance when he was looking for a new building to work in.
“I had always been in the CBD with my practice, but my lease was up, and I was looking to move,” Rob said.
“By chance, I came down to Pyrmont to look at some office space in the Nokia building, and I hadn’t been down the bottom of Harris Street in years.
“It was a whole new world. At the time, I was amazed at how much it had changed. I had friends who worked for CSR when it had a refinery down here. It had changed quite a bit, to say the least.”
Rob spotted a space at the bottom of a residential building, and while at first, he was hesitant about the location he realised it ticked a lot of boxes.
So in 2002, he moved into Jacksons Landing at Pyrmont and has been operating his business out of there ever since.
Rob said while the population has increased, apartment buildings have sprung up, and council has done a lot of work on Pirrama Park – in many ways Pyrmont has not changed.
“In terms of other developments, I think it has been underdone,” he said.
“I don’t necessarily see that the architectural landscape has not improved. You look at Harris Street, which if anything has gone downhill and is not living up to its potential.”
Rob believes that suburbs that want to attract a mix of residents, businesses and even tourists need to have a developed “high street”.
“To have a high street, you need to have businesses, an appearance and a streetscape that attracts people to wander up and down it,” he said.
“At present one of the problems with Harris Street, that I believe, is that it does not have a beginning and an end.
“In other words, as you come down towards the water, there is not much to draw you down here.”
Rob added whether it’s a high-end shopping strip or a restaurant hub, it needs to be defined as such and adequately planned.
He said that Pyrmont had attracted small businesses in the past as available office spaces were often targeted towards them.
“On the other hand we now have the Googles, the Foxes, the Channel 7s and the Star Casino,” Rob said.
“There are some large corporations as well but whether the two intermix well, I am not so sure.”
Pyrmont needs to work out what its future is before it can be defined, Rob said.
“If we tear down everything and build high-rises, it will be defined by nothing but towers,” he said.
“If we are going to try and create an integrated community, then it needs to have a lot more thought go into it.
“We need to keep what we have got in terms of the old buildings and upgrade them as much as possible. We need to create a mix between the old and the new.”
In an ideal world, Rob said, Pyrmont could become what Brooklyn is to Manhattan rather than what North Sydney is to the CBD.
“It’s got to be a good mix between working life and residential life, but that’s not always easy to do,” he said.
“Pyrmont has the opportunity to be a fantastic place to live or work in the next 10 or 20 years, but we need to have a lot more connection between the local community and the working community.
“They are talking about Pyrmont being a second CBD, and I think you have to ask ‘do we want to turn into North Sydney’ which I think is a fairly soulless place.”
At the end of the day, life and character are crucial for Pyrmont to define what it is.
“It has a lot of potential. It just needs to be planned and well thought out,” Rob said.