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Woollahra Council to redevelop Double Bay car park into residential and entertainment space

The Cross Street car park in Double Bay will be redeveloped into a multi-use residential and entertainment space. Photo: Woollahra Council.

By PATRICK MCKENZIE

Woollahra Council has announced plans to redevelop the Cross Street car park in Double Bay into a complex that would house cinemas, retail shops and residential apartments.

The design proposal, announced on Wednesday after discussion of the redevelopment at a council meeting last Monday, would see the public exhibition and community consultation period commence shortly, for construction to commence in two to three years’ time. 

General Manager of Woollahra Council Craig Swift-McNair said that the proposal will enhance Double Bay’s social, cultural and commercial life and would affirm council’s commitment to revitalising the area.

“This is a great result for the community, and will complement the significant improvements to Double Bay delivered in recent years by Council,” Mr Swift-McNair said.

“Importantly, the project will be delivered at no cost to council or ratepayers, while adding valuable new assets which will provide long term benefit to the community.”

Craig Swift-McNair. Photo: LinkedIn.

The project would be a partnership between council, debt and equity investment manager Pallas Group, Assembly Funds Management and Fortis development group, and will involve the demolition of the existing 380-space car park and replacement with a new structure.

Amenities would include an estimated 18 apartments across 4,000 square metres, retail space of approximately 1,860 square metres, a multi-screen cinema complex and a large public basement car park in addition to parking for residential and commercial tenants.

“The redevelopment of the Cross Street site represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rejuvenate the precinct, and positively impact the Double Bay centre. We look forward to working closely with the council and the local community over the coming weeks and months to deliver a vibrant cultural and retail precinct in the next few years,” Fortis Associate Director Ed Eve said.

Council’s plans to encourage mixed-use developments and increase building heights were previously met with concerns mostly related to maximum height extensions.

Council had been ‘pursuing redevelopment of the site’ for years: General Manager’s report

In the background section of the General Manager’s report presented to the meeting, Development Manager Richard Pearson wrote that council had been pursuing redevelopment of the site since the mid-2010s.

“The car park is nearing the end of its life and suffers from a range of issues, including structural deterioration and other non-compliance issues, which mean that the ‘do nothing’ option is increasingly unviable,” the report said.

An expression of interest process commenced for the site in September 2020 and then presented 12 proposals to council in May 2021 before resolving to proceed with four shortlisted proposals at a confidential meeting in the same month. Council subsequently received more detailed proposals later in the year, while also considering the possibility of redeveloping the site itself without the assistance of a private sector partner.

A confidential report was prepared and presented for the meeting, suggesting that council appoint a development partner from the shortlist.

In the meeting, councillors voted 13-1 to enter a closed session to further consider the confidential report in accordance with Section 10A of the Local Government Act 1993. Residents First Councillor Luise Elsing was the only councillor to vote against the resolution.

Council will also refer the matter to the Office of Local Government in accordance with its Public-Private Partnership Guidelines before entering into contractual arrangements.

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