Precinct around Crown’s Barangaroo casino starts to take shape 

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Crown Sydney to open doors on December 28 but casino to remain shut

New South Wales’ new casino development at Barangaroo is beginning to take shape, with a boardwalk that curves around a new cove in front of Crown’s casino tower opened to the public for the first time in 100 years.

The Brisbane Times reports the government opened the waterfront precinct known as Watermans Cove on Thursday, as construction work forges ahead on the casino and later stages of the $6 billion Barangaroo project.

“What was once a foreboding industrial wasteland is now a picture-perfect postcard celebrating great design, great architecture and great open spaces,” Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said.

“It’s liberating an area of the harbour that’s been shut off for centuries, more than a hectare of public open space, mature trees, great places for people to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.”

A 60-year-old Port Jackson fig tree transplanted in front of the casino is among 80 trees that dot the precinct, which includes the timber boardwalk and sandstone steps leading down to the waterfront.

Mr Stokes said the walkway fitted with the government’s ambition to open a continuous ribbon of public spaces along the harbour foreshore winding from Rozelle Bay to Woolloomooloo.

Plans for the redevelopment of Blackwattle Bay include a foreshore promenade that will be the final piece of the 15- kilometre walking track. 

“It’s great to see this missing link now delivered for the people of Sydney and of Australia,” he said.

The space was a project by Crown Resorts and Lendlease, which owns the International Towers and is building the Renzo Piano-designed One Sydney Harbour apartments at Barangaroo South in partnership with the state government.

Lendlease chief executive Steve McCann said the cove created a “world-class, sustainable precinct” at the Barangaroo development, about half of which is set aside for public space and parkland.

“If you go back to the traditional custodians, who used this land for hunting and fishing, a place to gather and shelter, turning this back to the people of NSW is a great initiative.”

Crown on track to open new casino in Sydney

Crown’s controversial 71-storey casino, residential and hotel tower is nearly completed. 

The opening of the cove on Thursday coincides with damning evidence against Crown Resorts being aired at a NSW inquiry scrutinising the company’s suitability to hold a casino licence in Sydney.

The inquiry will report back to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority by February 1, although Crown has repeatedly said it plans to open its $2.2 billion VIP casino this year.

“We look forward from about December onwards to opening the mighty Crown building behind us here also for the enjoyment of the people of NSW,” Crown Resorts chairwoman Helen Coonan said.

Ms Coonan downplayed the possible repercussions of coronavirus travel restrictions blocking access to the casino for high-roller clients from overseas.

“It’s not going to be a white elephant, we’ve got local patrons. There are other parts of the business. Obviously you don’t open a facility if you don’t think it will be financially viable.”

The probity inquiry has triggered questions about whether the casino would be able to operate before the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has made a decision on Crown’s licence.

In response to questions on the issue, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she didn’t want to “pre-empt anything.”

“At the appropriate time the government would get advice and act according to that advice.”

Construction of the $2.5 billion Barangaroo Central precinct, the final section to be developed, is expected to start within a year.

Early works are under way for the metro station due to open in 2024.

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