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Crown to rethink its approach to One Queensbridge project

Wed, Mar 6, 9:03am by Staff Writer

Crown Resorts has been forced to rethink plans for a site in Melbourne’s Southbank after the Victorian government knocked back its bid for an extension to build Australia’s tallest tower.

The state’s Planning Minister Richard Wynne refused the $1.75 billion developments extension request, meaning Crown will need to obtain a new planning approval for the Queensbridge luxury hotel and apartment complex if they wish to proceed with their plan.

The permit expired on Sunday 3 March, 2019 and gave Crown Resorts and partner Schiavello two years to commence construction.

Crown told investors on Monday that the Victorian Planning Minister informally rejected the request to alter approvals given two years ago for the 90-storey project.

Located opposite Southhank’s casino, One Queensbridge was set to be 323 metres high – 26 metres taller than the Eureka Tower and would top Q1 in Surfers Paradise as the nation’s tallest building.

Crown has consistently remarked that the project was subject to obtaining financial arrangements that were “satisfactory to Crown and Schiavello” according to The Age.

“Crown retains a 50 per cent ownership interest in the land and will consider its next steps for the property in conjunction with Schiavello,” a Crown spokesperson said.

Mr Wynne granted the development in March 2017, despite staunch opposition from Melbourne City Council.

A spokeswoman for Mr Wynne said the minister had refused the request for an extension of time on the basis of insufficient reasons were provided to justify this.

“The two year commencement time frame was a requirement in the approval given to Crown in 2017,” she said.

“The reasons for not meeting this condition and next steps are a matter for the proponent,” the spokeswoman said.

The original approval was gazetted with the condition that the development must commence within two years.

In a behind closed doors deal in 2017, he approved the proposal, at a size more than three times greater than planning rules for the site had allowed.

The tower was to feature 708 apartments and a 388-room hotel.

Critics at the time described the approval as a “free kick” for Crown, but Premier Daniel Andrews justified the executive decision by saying the project was of “state significance.”

As recently as a month ago, Crown executives reaffirmed their support of the project, which was again included in the company’s half-yearly financial presentation.

“It’s in the pack for a reason,” Crown executive chairman John Alexander said. “That’s all I will say.”

New Sydney casino closer to completion

Construction continues on Crown Resorts’ newest casino in Sydney’s Barangaroo despite a turbulent 2018 for the sector.

Gaming industry analyst from JP Morgan Donald Carducci said: “Barangaroo is becoming a larger part of the conversation as analysts are now starting to considering how to factor it into their numbers and its impact on both Sydney and Star in 2019.”

There is a consensus that Crown will have approximately 125 VIP gaming tables in its new casinos and if each can generates $2 million, this will create $250 million in revenue per year.

The question is whether this revenue will be from market growth or taken from its nearby competitor the Star Sydney.

Crown has had good recent success in its VIP gambling programs in Melbourne with revenue rising 73 per cent to $591 million last year.

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