CITY of Parramatta Council has agreed to explore changing the predominant use of Walker Corporation's proposed Aspire Tower – also known as 8 Parramatta Square – from residential to commercial, subject to approval from incoming elected councillors.
If the new Council agrees following the local government elections on 9 September, Walker Corporation would be given the option to change the use of Aspire Tower to accommodate up to 71,000 square metres of A-grade commercial floor space.
An economic study commissioned by the Council found the additional commercial space would create an extra 10,000 jobs, resulting in an estimated $31.6 million in retail expenditure in the Parramatta CBD – $19.2 million more every year than would be generated by residents and workers under the current residential scheme for 8 Parramatta Square.
The report said the extra $19.2 million could also result in a substantial number of additional retail jobs.
City of Parramatta Council Administrator, Amanda Chadwick, said there were strict conditions Walker Corporation would need to meet before pursuing the option of changing 8 Parramatta Square to commercial space, including securing pre-commitments from tenants for at least 50 per cent of the building.
Other conditions include maintaining the iconic architecture and the same tower height, as well as ensuring the retail podium and activation of the public domain are continued in the new building.
"Council's priority is ensuring Parramatta Square will become the world-class precinct the community deserves," Ms Chadwick said.
"That's why Council has placed these stringent conditions on the change – to ensure the people of Parramatta and our visitors get the best architecture and a thriving, welcoming public space to enjoy.
"Walker Corporation will be required to hold another design competition for a re-design of the building that will be one of the tallest in Australia.
"Significantly, a further condition will require the lower floor plates of 8 Parramatta Square to be combined with the adjoining A-grade commercial building at 6 Parramatta Square which is also to be developed by Walker Corporation. This would provide large, campus-style floor plates of between 2500 and 3000 square metres, which are a rare offering in the broader Sydney market and are unavailable anywhere else in the Parramatta CBD."
The $2 billion Parramatta Square urban renewal precinct covers three hectares of land within the Parramatta CBD and is bounded by Church, Macquarie, Smith and Darcy streets. The precinct is expected to form the heart of the Parramatta CBD, with civic, commercial, educational, residential, social and public space uses.
Current tenants at Parramatta Square include Western Sydney University in a state-of-the-art vertical campus, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Sydney Water.
National Australia Bank, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, the Environment Protection Authority and NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation have also committed to leasing 3 and 4 Parramatta Square.