Plenary and Capella in battle for Sydney Harbour

28 February 2019 - 12:00 am UTC

The redevelopment of Sydney’s Circular Quay is sailing closer to reality with Plenary Group and Lendlease’s Capella Capital vying for the circa AUD 2bn (USD 1.43bn) project.

On offer is the right to give the Circular Quay wharves a major face lift. The precinct is a hub for transport and tourism – its home to museums, shops, ferry, bus and train services, as well as the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. 
Transport for NSW has confirmed the race is down to two. Plenary Group and the CQC consortium, which includes Capella Capital, the infrastructure investment arm of Lendlease are competing to design, develop, construct, operate, maintain, finance and manage the revitalisation of the quay.
The consortia were recently notified of their entry into Phase 2 of the state’s Structured Market Engagement.
Transport for New South Wales, are running the tender and said it received nine initial bids, including AMP Capital, Broadspectrum’s APP Corporation and Dexus. 
The 50-year concession offered was too short for AMP Capital. A source familiar with the matter reckoned it would be impossible to make their capital investment back over that timeframe.
AMP Capital’s infrastructure and property divisions were jointly bidding on the project.

TNSW are looking for “ the best, value-for-money design and transport solution,” a spokesperson said. However, the state’s transport body is also developing Government-led options in parallel.

The picturesque tourism magnet, which attracts millions every year, is the cornerstone of the nation’s AUD 47bn tourism economy – one of its biggest. As a precinct it would be a major trophy asset for any investor, as it has an annual footfall of 50m pedestrians. This number is set to swell 40% to 81m by 2041,  from daily arrivals of passengers from cruise ships and public ferries into the Harbour. 
Consortium leader Plenary has summoned prize-winning British architect Amanda Levete, the owner of AL_A Architecture, plus two local architects Cox Architecture and McGregor Coxall. John Holland is on board as contractor, according to a teaser seen by Inframation. 
The second team CQC, is led by Lendlease and Capella Capital along with a design team led by Australian firm Tzannes Architects. The group includes Weston Williamson + Partners and landscape architects, Aspect, are also on board. 
There has long been talk of sinking Circular Quay train station underground in order to enhance the view of the Harbour, but it is not known if this could form part of the redevelopment plan.
Plenary’s architect Levete devised a solution on Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology involving a ramp over the building to allow access to the building from the city centre, which was blocked by a four-lane highway and railway lines.
“The aim is to provide a transport interchange that works well for customers and a new destination that reflects the importance of Circular Quay, not just to Australians but to our global visitors as well,” according to a TNSW spokesperson.