CITY of Parramatta Council has voted to allow developer Walker Corporation to put forward a commercial building option for the proposed 243-metre Aspire Tower at 8 Parramatta Square in the heart of the CBD.
At an extraordinary Council meeting last month, Councillors supported an option allowing Walker Corporation to explore a commercial tower instead of the planned residential and hotel building.
The option comes with strict conditions including a new design competition, securing a pre-committed tenant for 50 per cent of the building and maintaining the building's height and architectural presence as a key building within the more than $2 billion Parramatta Square urban renewal precinct.
City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson said the decision recognises the need to satisfy a groundswell of demand for A-grade commercial space within the transforming CBD precinct and its impact on the economy of the entire Parramatta LGA.
"This is a sensible approach to considering the best use of this building for Parramatta's long-term economic health and prosperity," Cr Wilson said.
"It will massively increase the City's capacity as an employment hub and bring thousands of people into the very heart of this exciting new CBD environment on a daily basis."
An economic study commissioned by the Council earlier this year 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.
"We need to be more than just a dormitory council. Our being an economic engine will bring jobs to all of Western Sydney," the Lord Mayor said.
"It's clear there is a case for more commercial space in this location, in the City, at this time. We're committed to driving Parramatta forward as Sydney's Central City, and this decision allows us to explore all options to secure that future for the people of Parramatta.
"This is the tipping point that Parramatta has been working toward for decades. As a City, we're at the edge of change that is both necessary and significant. It will be the biggest structural shift for our City in generations."
As part of conditions of the change of use, the lower floor plates of 8 Parramatta Square must be combined with the adjoining A-grade commercial building at 6 Parramatta Square, also to be developed by Walker Corporation.
It is expected this will create a combined lettable area of 122,000 square metres, bringing the total commercial development in Parramatta Square to 250,000 square metres of prime A-grade office space.
Tenants at Parramatta Square already 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.