The New South Wales Government's development agency UrbanGrowth will become the master developer of the
White Bay Power Station, after rejecting all private proposals under a drawn out Request for Proposals (RFP) process.
Developers including Mirvac, Country Garden, Lend Lease and several Chinese groups had lodged bids to redevelop the high-profile site.
“The NSW Government’s vision is for the old White Bay Power Station to become Australia’s leading, world class tech hub. In October 2015, we sought proposals from the private sector to transform the iconic site on Sydney Harbour,” UrbanGrowth NSW Chairman John Brogden said.
“While some proposals were strong in certain areas, unfortunately there were no complying proposals that addressed the evaluation criteria to achieve the Government’s plan for the site."“The private sector proposals relied too heavily on residential development to fund decontamination of the Power Station, and doing so would have changed the nature of the site."“As such, UrbanGrowth NSW will now assume the role of master developer of the White Bay Power Station site. We will break the project into smaller parcels of land as part of a staged development to attract a diverse range of tenants who will meet the Government’s agenda.”
In order to move the project forward, UrbanGrowth NSW will now make an upfront contribution to the material cost of restoration and rehabilitation of this historic building to begin the process of bringing this unique but contaminated public asset back to life.
“We have set a very high bar to transform this strategic asset and its surrounds into a tech hub that supports Australia’s knowledge-intensive industries,” Mr Brogden said. “As the custodians of this heritage-listed building on public land, we owe it to Sydneysiders, the people of New South Wales and future generations to get this right.”
UrbanGrowth NSW today advised the proponents of the decision to take on a more direct role in developing the site in keeping with international best practice, and will focus initially on securing suitable occupants for the White Bay Power Station by the end of the year.
“We will draw inspiration from New York’s emerging Roosevelt Island development in partnership with industry and the community to create a new home for Sydney’s high-tech sector.”
The Urban Taskforce said the NSW Government proposal rejections reduces confidence in the Private Public Partnership process.
“UrbanGrowth NSW have spruiked the importance of their call for the private sector to make proposals for the renewal of the White Bay Power Station,” says Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson.
“But after 13 teams have spent millions of dollars in good faith the whole process has been cancelled.
“It would appear that the brief was just too restrictive with the requirement to only house technology companies while restoring a decaying heritage building and to somehow fund this from very limited new development,” he said.
Mr Johnson said an extraordinary amount of money and resources has now been wasted.
“The large development companies in NSW have previously had two rounds of proposals for the central area of Barangaroo cancelled and with the termination of the White Bay proposal process, tens of millions of dollars have been wasted.”
“UrbanGrowth NSW should have de-risked the project before going to the market place or alternatively they should have had a more flexible approach to uses that may have led to viable solutions.”
“There is also much confusion around the White Bay site about the impact of WestConnex and future public transport options. This lack of clarity increases the risk to the private sector in preparing proposals but it is very unfair to use this as an excuse in rejecting all proposals.”
The White Bay Power Station, closed since 1983, is an immediate priority Destination for The Bays Precinct Urban Transformation Program. It will be adaptively reused to house major knowledge sectors and high quality public spaces, activating the approximately 10 hectare site and connecting it with the waterfront. UrbanGrowth NSW plans to commence the transformation of the White Bay Power Station in 2017.