Crown Casino is building a $2.2 billion tower in Sydney’s waterfront suburb of Barangaroo. The plans, keep changing over time, though, drawing heated criticism from various city officials and community groups.

According to submitted plans, the Crown Sydney Tower will rise 271.3 meters above the city’s skyline (71 storeys). By way of comparison, the Sydney Tower Eye is 260 meters, and the Eureka Building stands 297.28 meters.

The completion date for the project is 2021. It will include a residential complex, as well as a casino featuring pokies, roulette, and all the expected classics.

After 14 months of construction, the structure is currently 120 meters high. Once completed, the two to five-bedroom apartments will be available for purchase at a starting price of $9.5 million.

What’s a Barangaroo?

Barangaroo is the name of a new upscale development in Sydney, New South Wales. It was once a dilapidated container terminal at the end of the central business district. Now, it’s a waterfront precinct and the future home of a massive Crown casino.

The proximity of Barangaroo to the Sydney Opera House ensures that it’ll get plenty of exposure. The city has even put together a website to praise the virtues of “Sydney’s new landmark waterfront destination.” According to the site, “Barangaroo is a place to meet, work, live, eat and simply relax.” Of course, all of this comes with a rather hefty price tag.

Ironically, the area has been named for a Cammeraygal leader who lived in the 18th century. Barangaroo was no fan of European colonization, so I doubt she’d approve. The site of the nearby opera house is named for her second husband, Bennelong, so at least the pair can symbolically be together.

A Change in Plans

Crown recently submitted a request for a number of changes to the project, drawing plenty of complaints. Here’s a rundown:

  • The proposal includes reducing the size of some apartments to fit in another 21 units. This would bring the total number of living quarters to 87.
  • Visitor parking will be reduced by 37 spaces. However, 47 residential spaces and 21 valet spaces will be added. In all, the tower is expected to have 641 parking spaces (four times more than similar developments). Nineteen extra bicycle spaces will also be added for fitness-conscious punters.
  • A public observation deck, offering a view of Sydney Harbour, will be moved from level 65 to 66.
  • One of the tower’s three swimming pools will be removed.
  • A ground-level dining area will now be surrounded by glass panels.
  • Restaurant and spa terraces will be partly enclosed.

Crown claims that these changes are the result of “market feedback.” I guess that must be the latest euphemism for “unabashed greed.” At least a vampire is honest about wanting to drain your blood.

Crown Barangaroo Under Construction in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

A Bunch of Whingers

Sydney mayor Clover Moore is the biggest critic of the changes, calling them an “outrageous betrayal of the community’s trust.” She’s also accused developers of sacrificing public land “so private interests can profit from selling apartments to millionaires.”

Council members of Sydney have also voiced objections. They claim the increase in parking spaces is “excessive and counter to sound urban planning and concept plan principles.” They also criticized a lack of affordable housing units as “not in the public interest.”

They claim the rise in parking goes against the city’s substantial investment in public transportation. It may also lead to conflicts between cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles, thereby lowering everyone’s enjoyment of the area.

The Millers Point Community Resident Action Group is also unhappy. They tried to stop the project, even challenging it in court. According to the group’s chairman, “NSW has perfected the process of completely changing an approval by small increments.”

Effect on Australian Gamblers

Despite snags and objections, you can expect the Crown Barangaroo to be open for business by 2021. There’s simply too much money (and influence) tied up in its completion.

Aussie punters have another destination to visit, although one that’s decidedly upscale. Online gamblers, meanwhile, should be unaffected, as the virtual pokies will continue to spin no matter what.