Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Plans to build on $371.6m tourism sales

Parramatta wants to build on the $371.6 million in sales in the city’s hospitality and tourism sectors by setting up a committee and appointing a tourism officer to entice more domestic and international visitors up the river to Parramatta.

An economic development tourism committee of key stakeholders will be charged with improving the growth of visitor numbers, encouraging them to stay longer in the city and to spend more.in its restaurants, cafes and retail outlets.

“We need to invest more resources into developing our tourism product to put us in a better position to capitalise on the economic benefits tourism brings,” Parramatta Lord Mayor, John Chedid, said

The current situation is that council’s investment in tourism growth, to date, had been “modest,” he said.

The challenge the committee faces is to transform Parramatta, which is regarded as a service centre to a destination projecting a “vibe and buzz”.

Observers of the initiatives to improve, to-date, the city’s razzmatazz – Parramattazz, to coin a word – and the public domain amenity would be hard-pressed to criticise council’s efforts to make the city a place to visit.

Stakeholders to assist in the formation of the committee and its plans include the National Trust, Parramatta Park Trust, Destination NSW, Sydney Ferries, Parramatta Chamber of Commerce, the Australian Turf Club and local hotel and restaurant representatives.

The highest priorities are the development of new and existing tourism product and experiences, building strategic partnerships, providing quality infrastructure and amenity and delivering smart, effective communication and marketing, Clr Chedid said

“It is critical now that we provide a greater focus on these initiatives so the city can achieve its full potential and be a place where people want to live, work and play,” he said.

Council will consider funding a tourism product development officer and allocating sufficient resources when finalising its corporate plan and budget for 2014/15.

President of the Parramatta Chamber of Commerce, Roger Byrne, said the city has been built on the back of commerce and enterprise and as such the historical elements take a back seat to the commercial focus of the city.

“A unique selling proposition and clear and concise tourism marketing and infrastructure plan needs to be in place if this committee is able to make a difference,” he said.

An indication of the foundation on which the city could leverage more domestic and international visitors is the contribution of $371.6 million in sales which the hospitality and tourism sectors made to the local economy in 2011/12, according to the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research.

Japanese expertise sought on two major projects

The expertise of Japanese firms will be sought by Parramatta City Council regarding opportunities associated with council’s multi-million Parramatta Square and Parramatta Light Rail projects.

This comes about following the visit to Japan by Professor Edward Blakely, Honorary Professor of Urban Policy, at the US Studies Centre, University of Sydney. 

Arrangements were made for Professor Blakely to meet with Japanese transportation and investment firms to discuss the potential for building, operating and financing the light rail project and examine projects similar to the design and development of Parramatta Square, a mix of high-rise office and residential accommodation, adjacent to train station.

“Marubeni Corporation and Mitsubishi have the desire, expertise and financing capability to construct and manage a light rail like that envisaged for Parramatta and Western Sydney,” Professor Blakely said.

He said the company, the lead firm on the Gold Coast Light Rail, was prepared to offer advice on how council should proceed in completing a business case for light rail.

The Toranomon Hills Complex, in Central Tokyo was similar to the Parramatta Square, he said.

Council resolved to further investigate the Toronomo Hills project with a view to enhance the $1.6 billion Parramatta Square project and iiaise with Marubeni and Mitsubishi and other interested companies to gauge interest in their potential involvement in the light rail project.

Professor Blakely said a conclusion of his attendance at an Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting was that Parramatta needed to accelerate its opportunities to connect the universities of Western Sydney and New England, and other organisations, as essential to improving local economic performance.

“They represent world best practice in creating urban areas for the future,” he said..

Professor Blakely, acting in the capacity as advisor to Lord Mayor, John Chedid, attended an urban economic development symposium at the invitation of the OECD.

UWS proposes 20,000sqm space in the CBD

The development of a 20,000-square-metre, multi-storey in the Parramatta CBD is a part of the University of Western Sydney’s regional development strategy.

The UWS Board of Trustees in giving an in-principle agreement expected the facility to be ready for teaching in 2017.

UWS vice-chancellor, Professor Barney Glover, said it would it contribute to the university’s plans to significantly increase its international student population, expand its course offerings at Parramatta, and provide more flexible learning opportunities for students. 

“With our existing Parramatta campus almost at capacity, we plan to significantly expand our presence in the CBD where we can be co-located with business and industry, and increase our connection to the social, economic and civic life of Parramatta and Greater Western Sydney,” he said.

Several development sites within the Parramatta and a final decision was expected on the exact location by June 2014, he said.

Earlier this year, UWS opened a campus, over four levels, in an office building in the Parramatta CBD for its post-graduate students. 

Architects chosen for $800 million project

The Heartland Group has chosen the architects for its $800 million project which includes three residential towers between 30-40 storeys, in the Parramatta CBD.
Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C), Turner and Associates, and Oculus are the winning designers for three sites following a design competition by the group.
AJ+C won the role of co-ordinating architect of the entire $800 million project, as well as the architect for the largerof the three sites on the corner of Church Street and the Great Western Highway.
Turner and Associates have been chosen as the architect for the second building, and Occulus, as the landscape architect for the park, on the third site, together with the extensive public domain components.
Architecture & Design online magazine said the $800 million project includes three residential towers between 30-40 storeys with retail/commercial uses on the lower levels, two 10-storey commercial buildings, approximately 3000 square metres of public open space, a 2000-square-metre public park, basement supermarket and parking for approximately 1200 cars.  
The planned pedestrian plaza will run through the centre of the three sites and will link the project's new social spaces and opportunities for cafes and outdoor dining
“This is the first cab off the rank for the planned revitalisation of the ‘Auto Alley’ end of Parramatta’s Church St,” said Michael Heenan, Principal and CEO of Allen Jack+Cottier.
“It will set a new civic benchmark and form the southern gateway to Parramatta CBD.”

trade and investment committee proposed

Parramatta City Council proposes to launch a trade and investment committee to respond to the growing interest in investing in the city.
“This financial year, we have received development applications worth well over $1.6 billion, double the amount for the same period last year,” Lord Mayor, John Chedid, said.
Clr Chedid was speaking to approximately 200 business men and women at the Parramatta Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the City Address, at the Novotel Hotel.  
“We have 33 major commercial and residential developments being built in our city and in coming years, there will be $8 billion of commercial and residential development built,” he said
“We have launched a new service to support and fast-track developments by assigning development case-workers to smooth the process.
He said 5000 new apartments had been approved in Parramatta in recent years,
Clr Chedid said Parramatta would soon overtake Adelaide as Australia’s fifth biggest CBD..

He said council had “fielded” expressions of interest for more than 100,000 square metres of commercial property space within council’s $1.6 billion Parramatta Square project.