A $65 million hotel and apartment redevelopment on the site of Sydney’s former Bourbon and Beefsteak pub and Les Girls nightclub on Darlinghurst Road has been approved.
The decision by the City of Sydney marks an end to a tedious and eventful application process that has been in the pipeline for over four years.
Local restaurant owner Hamilton Kings said that while he’s largely pleased with the approval, he still harbours some doubts about the development.
“The overall impact will be positive for the business community and generally for the Potts Point Community,” Kings told City Hub.
“I am just concerned of the impact that it will have on the surrounding business during the build phase.”
Sam Arnaout’s Iris Capital bought the 18-32A Darlinghurst Road site six years ago, and after launching the original plan in 2017 it was withdrawn due to strong community opposition.
The project was approved last week by the Central Sydney Planning Committee after extensive negotiations with the developer.
Council says extensive consultation has also been carried out with landowners and the community, with concerns about the project having been addressed in the development application.
Despite considerable changes from the original 2017 proposal, including plans to now retain 3 heritage arches, some community concerns remain.
“All the streets in the area very narrow, and there will be a lot of dust and the dirt in the area while they construct, I don’t think it was something looked at very closely [in the DA]. We could lose a lot of business,” Kings said.
The plans include 52 residential apartments and hotel accommodation with a capacity of 118 guests.
2 pubs, retail space and a medical centre are also in the plans.
Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Resident’s Society Chair Andrew Woodhouse said that a better outcome could have been achieved if the most recent application process wasn’t rushed.
“We only got 3 business days notice before it was coming before the committee for approval,” Woodhouse told City Hub.
“It’s taken 3 years to get this stage, and then we get three days in the middle of a COVID pandemic.”
Per the DA, the development was publicly notified for 28 days between 21 September and 20 October 2020.
Woodhouse also voiced residents concerns from the neighbouring building Kingsly Hall at 1A Elizabeth Bay Road, who are concerned about the structural integrity of their building, once excavation begins next door.
In the development application City of Sydney says these concerns have been resolved and a protection strategy is in place for Kingsley Hall.
A Local Renaissance
The near 20,000-square-metre site was once seen as the centre of Sydney’s underground and Kings Cross red-light district and was once a hive of activity.
“The area has been gradually evolving, and what I call the seedier characteristics have gone either due to lockdowns or lockouts,” Woodhouse said.
“This had led to a small renaissance in the area with some boutiques and residences arriving which locals have seen as a good thing.”
Founded in the 1960s, The Bourbon and Beefsteak and Les Girls site became an iconic Sydney venue.
“It’s been an upmarket club in its day, a glamorous pub, it’s had a lot of incarnations. There is part of the site that is quite grotty and has always been quite grotty,” Kings said.
“The overall aesthetics will be better, it’s a matter of how it’s done.”