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Hotelier Jerry Schwartz calls for outright rejection of Mirvac’s residential plan

Mirvac’s newly announced proposal to scrap its previous Harbourside Darling Harbour re-development plans in favour of a massive residential tower should be rejected outright, says prominent Sydney hotel owner and developer, Dr Jerry Schwartz.

Dr Schwartz, who owns the adjacent Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, said that previous NSW planning bodies had rejected proposals for the Harbourside re-development to include residential, and that decision should stand.

In 2019, Mirvac lodged a new plan for the site, proposing a commercial office above a redeveloped shopping and commercial centre. However, Mirvac produced yet another design for the site which re-introduced a residential tower as the major element in the development plan.

“The residential focus of the development proposal goes totally against the tourism, entertainment and retail concept of Darling Harbour,” said Dr Schwartz.

“The opening of the Sofitel and International Convention Centre three years ago re-emphasised Darling Harbour’s principal role as Sydney’s tourism hub, and there is no justification for deviating from that model.

“The Ribbon development on the former Imax site was also proposed as part-residential but had to change to full short-term accommodation, comprising a full-service hotel and serviced apartments.

“Darling Harbour has been designed as a commercial tourist and business precinct, not as another residential area in a city that is already well serviced by large-scale high to medium density apartment developments.

“The proposal will also block out views from a number of existing hotels, even more so with the plan to move the tower from the originally planned northern end to the centre of the site. When I bought the Sofitel at a very substantial cost prior to its opening, there was a condition that no building would be built on the Harbourside site for 15 years. Clearly, the Mirvac proposal is in direct contravention of that condition.

“The whole point of the original proposal was to ‘re-develop’ the Harbourside shopping centre, not develop a massive residential tower under the guise of redeveloping the existing shopping component.

“The rest of Mirvac’s proposal – the commercial and retail – is just a smokescreen for what is the ultimate end game: a massive residential development which goes completely against the ethos of the original Darling Harbour design concept.

“Already the City of Sydney has called for the rejection of the proposal, as have local residents of Pyrmont, and we call on the NSW Government to make it clear to Mirvac that this third version of their re-development plan is totally unacceptable.”

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