Thursday, 19 December 2013

Transforming city's skyline

Striking twin towers featuring a unique floating ‘public space in the sky’ are set to transform Parramatta’s skyline after winning Parramatta City Council’s latest international design excellence competition.
Announcing the Parramatta Square Stages 5 & 6 competition winner today, Lord Mayor John Chedid said the inspiring design by Sydney firm Johnson Pilton Walker had been unanimously chosen by a jury of industry experts.
The design for twin commercial towers was chosen from four shortlisted designs selected last month from an international field of 73 submissions from leading architects worldwide.
Cr Chedid said: “This project is essential to the revitalisation of the Parramatta town centre and to the safe, easy, pleasant delivery of pedestrians from the transport interchange to the civic heart of Parramatta.

“Council is delighted with the outcome and Johnson Pilton Walker’s design solutions. We’re confident their proposal for two beautifully linked buildings will complement all aspects of Parramatta Square, and be of premier appeal to national and international tenants.”
When constructed, the commercial towers will add up to 140,000 square metres of office space to the Parramatta CBD and function as two of the key centrepieces of the vital three hectare Parramatta Square site in the heart of the CBD.
Among the 53-storey buildings’ key features are: a cantilevering double-height sky terrace on the 25th floor; a double-height sky lobby on the 27th floor accommodating public and semi-public spaces; an edge-defining retail podium along the southern edge of the future Square; and a clear, accessible and active link between Parramatta transport interchange and Parramatta Square.
Speaking yesterday, the jury said they were impressed with all four shortlisted projects, which tackled the site in different ways. Each proposal was assessed in terms of its innovation, design, urban design, feasibility and sustainability, with the JPW plan unanimously chosen.

They said: “The JPW scheme proposes a highly legible, naturally lit connection between the rail station concourse and the future Parramatta Square, with multiple opportunities for retail activation on two levels.
“It proposes twin towers which complement but do not compete with the landmark ‘Aspire’ tower design.
These towers will provide 21stcentury workplaces in the heart of Parramatta.”
Cr Chedid thanked the jury for its expertise - NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet, City of Sydney Director of City Planning, Development & Transport Graham Jahn AM, NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure urban design team leader Elisabeth Peet, and Parramatta City Council’s Director of Property Development Scott Gregg.
“Council would also like to thank all four shortlisted practices – JPW, Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, Bates Smart and Mario Cucinella Architects – for the extraordinary depth of talent and creativity they brought to the competition. “Each of the four schemes was of the highest standard, and would have been a credit to the city.”

JPW now joins a range of internationally recognised architecture firms already appointed to design other landmark buildings within the Parramatta Square precinct.

Council's new CEO

Parramatta City Council has today announced the appointment of Mr Gregory Dyer as Chief Executive Officer.
Mr Dyer moves into the role in February 2014 and replaces Dr Robert Lang, who recently resigned after a number of highly productive and successful years at Council.
Announcing the appointment, Lord Mayor Cr John Chedid said: "Mr Dyer brings a wealth of talent and experience to the role, particularly in property and financial management, and we're delighted he's agreed to join us."
"He has a proven and outstanding track record of achievement, and experience that will serve Parramatta well as we continue to grow the city as Sydney's second premier CBD. We look forward to the benefit of his expertise."
Mr Dyer's appointment comes after an extensive and rigorous executive search, with a number of candidates of exceptional talent vying for the role.
"Having been born in Parramatta, it's gratifying to receive this opportunity to work in a community that I knew very well, and which was a key part of my early development," Mr Dyer said.
He most recently served as Finance Director with Top 50 ASX-listed property company Mirvac Group, a position he held from September 2012. Previously, he served as Chief Financial Officer with property/lifestyle investment company Mulpha Australia Ltd, and APN News and Media.
He has also held a number of director and non-executive director positions in Australia, the US and Asia with organisations including Insite Organisation Pty Ltd, FKP Property Group, Real Estate Capital Partners Managed Investments Ltd.

Mr Dyer holds degrees in both economics and law from the University of Sydney, and qualified as a chartered accountant while working for KPMG in their Parramatta office.

Council's new operations centre

The Taylor Construction Group has been awarded the contract for Parramatta City Council’s new operations centre in Victoria Road, Rydalmere
The cost to purchase and develop the 3.2-hectare site would be approximately $30 million, which would be funded by the sale of three smaller depots at Morton Street, Mary Parade and Elizabeth Street.
“The new operations centre will also be located in more suitable surrounds in an industrial area,” Lord Mayor, John Chedid, said.
“Currently, our depot operations are situated in the middle of residential areas.”
Cr Chedid said the relocation would free up prime residential land to help meet the housing needs of Parramatta’s growing population.
He said the development of the facility would support the growth of Rydalmere, which had been earmarked by the NSW government in its draft metropolitan strategy to be Western Sydney’s premier university precinct.

Earlier, Bunnings had received approval for the construction of a warehouse, at an estimated cost of $17.2 million, adjacent to the operations centre at 316 Victoria Road.

Council one the three finalsts

Parramatta City Council, in association with the National Australia Bank, was one of only three finalists in this year's prestigious 2013 Australian Property Institute (API) NSW Excellence in Property Awards..
Council was nominated for the DLA Property Industry Award, given to those that have demonstrated leadership and vision in the property industry, after achieving the first Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) in NSW.
Parramatta Lord Mayor, John Chedid said council was proud to receive such a high level of recognition within the property sector.

"The API Awards are one of the most prominent events on the NSW property industry calendar and so we are delighted that Council has been recognised for its achievements," he said.
"Council is continuously developing innovative ideas and providing forward-thinking solutions when it comes to improving our city's infrastructure.
The fact that council achieved the first EUA in NSW spoke volumes about its commitment to technological advancement, he said.
EUAs enable building owners to access attractive financing, providing opportunities for reducing energy bills and improving the environmental performance of their buildings.
In January 2013, the property 10 Valentine Avenue in Parramatta's CBD underwent an $800,000 lighting upgrade and became the first building in NSW to use the EUA finance mechanism.
By using an EUA, the project was able to reduce lighting energy by 70 per cent, receive tenant contributions that paid for 42 per cent of upgrade costs and allow the building owner to access low interest rate finance.

These types of upgrades make properties cheaper to run and are more attractive to tenants and potential buyers who want modern, efficient and sustainable buildings. Local building owners are encouraged to investigate how EUAs work and make upgrading their property more cost effective

Farmers Markest exceed expectations

Eighty per cent of stallholders participating in the Parramatta Farmers Market say the activity is meeting or exceeding expectations but like all small business people they would like to do more business.
Over 10,000 people pass through the Church Street Mall during lunch time on Fridays when the markets are held but finding a way to stop and buy is a challenge.
“Logic suggests that converting these pedestrians into shoppers would be any easy stratagem Many pedestrians however, remain fixed on their journey and timetable. Changing the current patterns and behaviours of office workers, commuters and mall denizens may take some time,” a council report said.
Stallholders are satisfied with most aspects of the markets, which are .organised by Parramatta City Council.
Satisfied with marketing (subheading bold)
A survey found that 82 per cent are satisfied with council’s marketing of the markets and noted that that entertainment, when provided, adds atmosphere and increases sales. Suggestions include music, singers, buskers and guitarists.
Some 90 per cent of respondents to the survey would like to see more stallholders participating above the average 23.
The council report is open to this and other options.
“Complementary market activities including alternate produce, locations and days will also be investigated and appropriate consultation commenced with key stakeholders including councillors, local businesses and potential stallholders,” the report said
A positive outcome of the presence of the markets is that the behaviour of people in the mal -  a major concern of council – is notably better on market days
Stallholders pay $70 approximately per week per stall.

Riverside Theatres needs funds

The “core” of Parramatta’s entertainment precinct has a problem – not the lack of fans, but funds. 
Parramatta City Council, which owns the popular Riverside Theatres, will be eagerly awaiting any allocation from James Packer’s $30 million donation to the arts in Western Sydney.
The 25-year-old venue, destined to be the core component of the new cultural and events precinct centred on the Parramatta River, is showing its age.
The basic infrastructure risks becoming architecturally, technologically and functionally out of date, according to a Parramatta City Council report
The venue, which opened in 1988 as part of Australia’s Bicentenary celebrations with the customary fanfare and plaudits about its contribution to the city’s cultural life, needs a multi-million dollar injection of funds to protect its function “as the core of Parramatta’s entertainment precinct.”
Its progressive deterioration puts at risk the presentation “of high quality performing arts, entertainment, community and culturally specific programs which engage audiences, visitors and local talent.”
Despite the problems, the venue manages successfully to support a very busy program with a modest investment in improvements each year.
Cox Richardson, in association with Schuler Shook, in identifying three options for the venue’s redevelopment, recognised the venue served a wider footprint than Parramatta saying the upgrading was “imperative to meet the demand of Greater Sydney’s growing population”
The three development options in their masterplan require very substantial financial investment of $38 million, $55 million and $72 million but so far appeals has been unable to attract any investment.

Parramatta Lord Mayor, John Chedid, said, in another context: “We seem to be forgotten out here.”