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Artist’s impression of the winning Grimshaw design for the corner of Church and Darcy Street – also known as the Hungry Jacks site. Featured

By Red Dwyer

LIKE the mythological phoenix rising from the ashes, Parramatta Square could emerge from the debacle of the controversial $1.6 billion Civic Place project.

After nearly a decade, Parramatta City Council and Grocon, its development partner, mutually agreed to part ways earlier this year.

The project’s demise was put down to the global financial crisis and its aftermath, which the council and Grocon agreed had made it unviable.

The project had been promoted as one of Sydney's biggest urban-redevelopment projects and a tipping point in the future of the Parramatta CBD.

Council now sees the future of the 3-hectare site, opposite Parramatta station, developed as a series of proposals rather than as a single project.

“I believe what we are launching, today, illustrates the vision of where we want to take Parramatta into the future,” Lord Mayor Lorraine Wearne told 200 business people at the annual State of the City Address, a joint venture between council and the Parramatta Chamber of Commerce.

“We think Parramatta Square will come to reflect the transformation of the city as a whole.” The vision includes the first two buildings on a “key” site in the heart of the Parramatta CBD.

One project includes a 65-storey residential building on the Hungry Jack’s outlet, on the corner of Church and Darcy streets, designed by Grimishaw, an international architectural practice with offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Its iconic twisting form blends structural efficiency with contemporary urban living and at 65 storeys or over 700 feet, it will be among the tallest residential buildings, not just in Parramatta, but in NSW,” Cr Wearne said.

Architectus, with offices in Australia and New Zealand, designed an 11-storey, 27,000-square-metre mixed-use building, on the corner of Macquarie and Smith streets.

Grimshaw and Architectus will work with council to submit DAs within the next few months and upon approval, council will seek development and finance partners from Australia and around the world to deliver these projects.

“Parramatta Square represents a desirable and lucrative place to invest and do business (and) upon completion, it is expected to provide accommodation for 13,000 workers,” Cr Wearne said.

Dr Robert Lang, council’s CEO, said council had started work on a business attraction program aimed at government employers, investors and commercial enterprise, both locally and internationally, to come to Parramatta.

As part of the program he said a new brand was being developed for the city.

A straw poll taken by WSBA following the presentations showed the project was well received, with one businessman expressing scepticism.

“Words are cheap; we have heard it all before. Civic Place was talked up right to the death knell,” he said.

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WESTERN Sydney private investor, Chandru Tolani of Chandru Enterprises purchased a fully occupied office building in Parramatta for $18 million.

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The Parramatta Factor - Panorama of a Global Sydney Future Featured

IF Parramatta did not exist it would need to be invented.

So far off centre is the Sydney CBD in the westward expansion of the metropolis that the very sustainability of Global Sydney is at risk.

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Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) covers the business and community issues of the Greater Western Sydney region of Australia. WSBA is the popular media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities and networks.