- »The Star Loses in Sydney but Wins in Queensland
The Star Loses in Sydney but Wins in Queensland
The Star Entertainment Group continues its year of ups and downs. This is a perfect example of which was its recent efforts for expansion in Sydney and on the Gold Coast.
The Sydney Independent Planning Commission recently nixed The Star’s plans to replace a part of its complex there with a larger tower both in height and scope. Meanwhile, the casino operator looks like it may remain the sole casino on the Gold Coast as it seeks to expand.
Mega Proposal Intrigues Officials
It was only last month that The Star Entertainment Group received its initial approval from the government of Queensland for its Gold Coast expansion.
The proposal for The Star Gold Coast was a “mega masterplan,” complete with an upgraded convention center and theater, new towers of apartments and hotels, and many more restaurants, bars, and retail shops. It also includes a plan to renovate, update, and add to the Sheraton Grand Mirage that it purchased in 2017.
All in all, the cost of the proposal exceeds $2 billion.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and the Far East Consortium International are The Star’s joint venture partners.
Second Casino Thwarted
Originally, The Star The Star Entertainment Group intended to include a second casino in its proposal. But that casino proved to be a sticking point in negotiations with government and tourism officials.
The Star Chairman John O’Neill noted that it is more important to the company to support tourism as a whole on the Gold Coast than to oversaturate the market. He ultimately conceded that the market is too small for that type of gambling expansion.
However, the Queensland government had been open to competition for The Star. For more than a year, the tourism sector of the government accepted proposals from at least 10 companies interested in a resort with a casino component.
Only The Star for Gold Coast
The threat of competition is now over. The government of Queensland has officially suspended its process of seeking input on improving the Gold Coast as a global tourism hub.
The reason is simple. Queensland wants to focus all of its energy on The Stars’s proposal.
Per ABC News, Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones confirmed the plan. “The Star has said it wants to make a multi-billion-dollar investment into the Gold Coast, and a second integrated resort is not needed to attract more international tourists. We will suspend the current global tourism hub process to fast-track negotiations with The Star so they can put their best foot forward, and we can assess what their true offer is for the Gold Coast.”
Next Steps for Queensland
The Star is currently finalizing its proposal, complete with any amendments or updates. That proposal will then face the scrutiny of a government-appointed advisory panel. That will be comprised of tourism officials and business and community representatives. The five-member group has been in place since March but will now facilitate the next set of approvals for the proposal.
More meetings, focus groups, and public hearings are likely going forward. There have been mixed messages about a second casino.
Panel Chairman John Witheriff noted that some community groups were strongly opposed to another casino. But the overall numbers showed that only 30% of them actually objected to it. Most people had no concerns about another casino as long as it was on private land and a part of a larger expansion resort-style project.
Even so, the Queensland government and The Star have agreed not to pursue casino talks further at this time.
No Expansion Luck in Sydney
Over in New South Wales, The Star was not experiencing the same positive feedback or results.
The Star had proposed an expansion on the Sydney waterfront in the form of a $529 million tower that would offer apartments and a six-star hotel. It would have replaced the existing Pyrmont but expanded to be three times as tall.
The “global waterfront project” drew skepticism from the start. Earlier this month, the NSW Independent Planning Commission turned that skepticism into full-blown rejection.
According to the commission, the tower would have blocked too much of the skyline, so it was ruled to be “overly obtrusive.” It would “dominate views and vistas to and from public places” and “reduce the visual amenity of the area.”
Overall, the entire project was too much in bulk and scale.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment also rejected the plan several months ago. They referred it to the commission for a second opinion. Further, City of Sydney Council members also opposed the plan, calling the tower a “rocket that’s just landed in Pyrmont.”
Groups that did support The Star’s Sydney expansion hailed the potential for employment and tourism. Those voices were outweighed by the opposition, though, so the project is most likely dead.