Echo Entertainment proposes $1.1b revamp of The Star Sydney casino complex
The Star casino’s ambitious $1.1 billion redevelopment bid to hold off James Packer features a proposal to build a state-of-the-art bridge linking Pyrmont to Barangaroo.
The Star’s owner Echo Entertainment has released a series of photographs exclusively to The Sunday Telegraph showing off a spectacular integrated resort complex featuring two new hotels, three new rooftop aquatic playgrounds and more than 50 restaurants and bars.
The plan, to be unveiled today, also includes the staging of an international competition to design a pedestrian and cycle bridge which would connect Darling Island where The Star is located to the southern end of Barangaroo,
The bridge could possibly be designed to open to enable large ships to pass into the National Maritime Museum, while commuters using the light rail into The Star could walk to Barangaroo, where Lend Lease is building three new office towers and a retail precinct.
Mr Packer’s Crown Resorts has submitted a $1.5 billion plan to the NSW Government to build an iconic 250-metre casino resort tower at Barangaroo. Crown is asking the government to end The Star’s Sydney casino monopoly when its exclusive licence expires in 2019.
The plan includes two new 27-storey luxury hotels, three rooftop pool retreats and 50 restaurants and bars – and possibly a new name.
Three storeys will be added to the existing Star casino building, topped with a 4500sq m aquatic park and five ultra-premium Quarterdeck villas.
The three-storey villas – featuring an infinity pool with panoramic views to the Sydney city skyline and the harbour – are designed to attract the world’s biggest gamblers, who come with a bankroll of at least $1 million.
“This is a resort that screams excitement,” one Star executive said.
The revamped entertainment mecca also aims to appeal to convention-goers and middle-class Chinese tourists by offering four-star rooms and mid-priced dining options.
The development would double the number of visits to The Star by interstate and international tourists to 2.6 million a year when completed by 2019, according to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers for The Star’s owner Echo Entertainment. Echo chief executive John Redmond will outline the full development plan today, after the final documents were handed to the state government on Friday.
Mr Redmond – a veteran of the Las Vegas gaming scene – developed the plan with leading international casino architect Paul Steelman, who he has known for 20 years. Mr Steelman, who recently completed Four Seasons Macau and the 488-room Solaire casino resort in Manila, is currently designing or constructing 85 gaming and entertainment projects, worth around $30 billion.
Echo is locked in a fierce battle with Mr Packer’s Crown Resorts, which is asking the government to end The Star’s Sydney casino monopoly when its exclusive licence expires in 2019.
Crown has submitted a $1.5 billion plan to build an iconic 250-metre casino resort tower at Barangaroo.
A panel led by former Commonwealth Bank chief David Murray will assess the final proposals and recommend to Premier Barry O’Farrell which plan will deliver stronger returns to taxpayers and the state economy. A decision is expected within weeks.
Echo is not seeking an increase to its 1500 poker machine limit, with only seven per cent of the additional floor space proposed to be dedicated to new gaming facilities.
The development would also be contained within The Star’s present footprint at Pyrmont.
The two new hotels will stand 118m-tall.
It is believed Mr Redmond is negotiating with several international hotel chains not presently in Australia – possibly including the Mandarin Oriental – to operate the proposed 180-room, five-star hotel.
Echo may seek to operate the 328 six-star hotel itself initially, along with its existing boutique offering The Darling and the Astral Tower.
Echo executives believe The Star plan has an edge over Crown as it is truly a tourist-focused integrated resort with accommodation and entertainment options spanning different price points.
“This is the real deal – it’s not a plan for a bid, but a plan for an actual development,” one executive said.
The Echo plan also seeks to complement the government’s $2 billion international convention centre development at Darling Harbour and Sydney City Council’s parks enhancement program.
Echo proposes staging a public competition to design the waterfront parkland areas stretching around the development.