The cadigal people hunted and fished these grounds thousands of years ago. Then later it became a shipping hub in the mid 1800’s. As shipping operations declined in the early 1980’s, this site became unused and deserted. In 2006, a design competition designated to restructuring and redeveloping this area as parks and commercial space was held. The winners were announced and officials promised the development would be in the public’s best interest. Allotments of 50 percent as parkland and a 14km shorewalk were promised. Commercial use was allocated 75% of this development with 25% going into the affordable residential development.
Fast forward ten years….all the promised percentiles have changed. This makes for very unhappy citizens. The initial proposal had changed dramatically. Buildings were taller. Parks are less. And now there is a casino.
This new casino will be housed in one of the residential towers, with rooms as much as 40,000 per night. These rooms are designed to bring in the high rollers. Definitely not the affordable housing promised in the original proposal.
What happened to the original vision designed by Philip Thalis? He thinks this is largely a failure for public officials not understanding the wants of the people. His original plan was designed to make it difficult for just one developer to monopolize the property. When Thalis and his team voiced their concerns of the alteration of the original project and design, they were ask to leave the project.
The new production leader, Paul Keaton, was one of the judges in the original contest. When problems arose with the construction proposal, Keaton and Thalis were at odds. After a period of time, the project was named Barangaroo. It was named to give credit to the first European people in this area.
As construction continued with a Harbour Hotel, buildings broke planning codes and seemed to destroy the environmental impact studies. Citizens were represented by council members and elected officials who stalled the development. With laws helping stall progress in development, laws were changed to set in motion the unwanted development.
As progress slowly continued, it became more apparent that the vision that once was loved by everyone had drastically changed. With power players and others wanting a piece of the money pie, it seemed inevitable that the once wanted development was side railed and would never come to fruition. As it continued on, less and less of the original plan showed itself. Moving farther and farther from the original design and with more and more money being funneled into the newer design, citizens opinions soured and turned negative.
Why was a casino added? Was it to bring in money for future projects? Projects that would start out with public backing and then be swayed and changed due to political and power hunger investors. It seems to be the same when it comes to public opinion. It is wanted but never really used.