Monday, 30 June 2014

1996: Manly Wharf's highrise tower

It has been the dream of some to build highrise at Manly Wharf like this plan floated back in 1973 by Manly MP Douglas Darby.
Manly Transit Centre plan 1973 (1)
Source: Owens, W. 1973. "Mr Darby builds a travel dream: Rocket trains to Manly," The Sun Herald, October 21, 39. 

But moving two decades later, Manly Wharf Pty Ltd led by Robert Magid had a six storey hotel planned for the famous wharf with about 200 rooms. He also wanted to upgrade the retail complex, which had opened just six years earlier (2 level complex).

  manly wharf redevelopment smh june 19 1996

Source: Morris, L. 1996. "Opponents of wharf plan 'parochial'," The Sydney Morning Herald, June 17,  9. 

manly wharf plans june 19 1996

Source: Smith, F. 1996. "Wharf hotel lands Magid in hot water". The Australian Financial Review, June 19, 41.

Sue Sacker, Mayor of Manly Council did not support the concept opting for a two level hotel. She felt there were too many rooms despite arguments from Magid that 200 rooms was needed to make it financially viable. In addition she was concerned about the influence of developers in Manly. Yet council wanted to rejuvenate Manly particularly the Corso. I look at the scheme and six storeys isn't that high when you compare it with other high rises in Manly not to mention nearby buildings. The benefits were there for Manly including more hotel accommodation and that also helps tourism within greater Sydney. Federal Tourism Minister John Brown was right about the NIMBY sentiment expressed by locals given people wanted to visit the area and needed to "share".

By December, the hotel height was scaled back with the hotel to be two storeys except for a section of the site where six floors would remain.

Manly Whard Hotel December 14 1996 daily telegraph 17
Source: Skelsey, M. 1996. "Developer enlists sports stars to help sell proposal to residents: $40m hotel for Manly Wharf," The Daily Telegraph, December 14, 17. 

Unfortunately for Mr Magid, Manly Council knocked back the development application. In 1996, they had passed a development control plan that regulated development around Manly Cove. State Legislation was put forward (and passed) the following year by Independent MP Dr. Peter McDonald known as the Manly Cove Development Control Bill.

The only change that happened to the wharf was an upgrade of existing facilities and that it is now the single level we see. Aldi is an anchor tenant and retailers cater primarily to a commuter crowd. There are bars like the Manly Wharf Hotel and Bavarian Bier Cafe to cater to visitors and locals alike.

But I ask the "What if" question had this been approved by Manly Council. I think there would have been engineering challenges in building this project and the cost of building would have been a big challenge. The financial viability of the developer would have come into question and perhaps it was another fantasy scheme like the one from 1973.

For the time being, high rise above Manly Wharf will be nothing but a fantasy.