Sydney Crown is James Packer's top priority and he's
frustrated at the delays -
2nd February 2015
gambling tycoon James Packer is frustrated that Crown
Sydney has been delayed. Photo: Reuters
Crown Resorts chairman James Packer is losing patience
with planning delays that threaten to push back construction
on his $2 billion luxury casino and hotel in Sydney.
has been waiting for the resolution of a legal fight
between property developer Lend Lease and the Barangaroo
Delivery Authority before it can apply for planning
approval for its project.
The Philippines on Monday, where Mr Packer officially
opened his City of Dreams Manila casino, the billionaire
told reporters he was increasingly frustrated by how
long the process was taking.
impression of Crown Sydney at Barangaroo.
nothing more important to me than Crown Sydney,"
originally intended to open its six-star hotel in
late 2018, although the casino would not begin operating
until November 2019.
timing restriction on the gambling side of the development
is because rival Echo Entertainment Group, which operates
Sydney's The Star casino, has an exclusive licence
up until that point.
Packer said that when Crown Sydney got parliamentary
approval in 2013, November 2019 "seemed a long
the BDA and Lend Lease still haven't settled their
dispute I don't think we are going to open on time,"
getting the project across the line with government,
with bipartisan support, Crown then received a greenlight
for a casino licence from the NSW gaming regulator
planning approval, which is the final step in the
process and must occur before construction begins,
will be the first time that the controversial casino
project will be opened up for community consultation.
The government gave the initial green light after
Crown proposed the casino via the "unsolicited
proposal" process, which is designed to encourage
the private sector to come directly to the state with
unique project ideas and bypass a public tender.
source with knowledge of the project said Crown had
originally intended to submit its planning application
in February 2014.
Lease won a long-running contract dispute over profit
sharing against the BDA in August 2014, although there
are outstanding issues regarding the claim.
Packer declined to go into detail about what had contributed
to the hold-up since then. "I'm not in the middle
of it," he said.
proposed cost of the project has increased to $2 billion,
up from previous estimates of $1.5 billion. Mr Packer
said Crown Sydney would have 350 hotel rooms and 80
apartments. "There's never been a hotel [development]
in the world that's cost $4.5 million per key,"
he said. "We are trying to build something truly
underlining his frustration at the delay, Mr Packer
said more recently revealed Crown projects such as
the $1 billion hotel and apartment tower for the Melbourne
casino and a new casino and entertainment complex
in Las Vegas could possibly be up and running before
the Barangaroo development.
in Sydney are the latest cloud to drift above Crown's
$9 billion development pipeline. The company's bid
to redevelop prime Brisbane waterfront is in doubt
after the shock election result at the weekend. It
is expected Labor will form a government and the party
has not made clear its position on the Queens Wharf
tender being fought out by Crown, in a joint venture
with Greenland, and a consortium led by Echo.
Packer would not be drawn on his expectation of Labor,
should it form government. However he took a swipe
at Echo, saying Echo's loss of its monopoly casino
licence in Sydney to Crown was the catalyst for the
company putting up a strong proposal for Brisbane.
two bidders revealed plans for their multi-billion
dollar bids in December.
I'm proud of is that without Crown [bidding in the
tender], Echo wouldn't have put forward the proposal
they did," he said.
has played a role in getting our competitor to try
described the smaller casino operator, which also
runs Brisbane's Treasury Casino and Jupiters Gold
Coast, as a "lazy company" that has abused
its monopoly licences.
in] Melbourne and Perth, we have never abused or milked
our monopoly," Mr Packer said.
After a period of under-investment in its casinos,
Echo has recently begun to turn around its performance.
It spent $870 million on a refurbishment of The Star,
which has begun to boost profits which soared when
combined with more targeted marketing and cost control.
a press conference to mark the official opening of
City of Dreams Manila, which operates under a subsidiary
of Mr Packer's Macau joint venture Melco Crown and
cost 37 billion pesos ($1.1 billion) to build, he
said casino operators had a responsibility to deliver
when given a casino licence. "If you don't do
it well you are abusing that privilege," he said.
Packer also said he was disappointed that a $US400million
project to build a casino and hotel in Sri Lanka was
knocked back by the country's new government. Although
some money was lost in the pursuit of the the failed
venture, Mr Packer said that was the risk of doing
necessary "business development".
also said he had a lot of respect for former president
Mahinda Rajapaska, especially his peaceful passing
on of power to new President Maithripala Sirisena.
journalist travelled to Manila as a guest of Crown
Sydney Morning Herald)