Monday, 23 May 2016

1991: The abandoned site (Evolution of World Square)

Last week, I focused on the approval and early stages of construction of the failed World Square development in central Sydney before industrial disputes and financial problems forced the collapse of the project in 1990.

World Square would remain mostly idle for a decade, though by the end of the 1990's the first steps towards the evolution of what we see there today.

The collapse of the World Square project happened to coincide with a property crash in Sydney along with the 1990-91 recession, which stifled demand for development in central Sydney. Over 20 sites in central Sydney would be affected by the recession with projects simply abandoned despite excavation works taking place.

Ipoh felt inclined to let the recession "do its work" and believed it could still turn a profit. Still nothing happened. The site was now inviting wildlife.

Even building just the podium would do? Could Sydney retailing have been transformed forever?

World Square July 28 1991 sunday telegraph 19


Source: Nance, J. 1991. World Square project may open in '93". The Sunday Telegraph, July 28: 19. 


In 1993, Sydney was successful in its bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games and the push was on to have the site developed for the games.

Just a year later, there was a proposal to build a major carpark.


world square 1994 sunday tele jan 9
Source: Gibson, A. 1994 "From huge hole to carpark". The Sunday Telegraph, January 9: page unknown. 


By 1995, work had begun on the carpark to be built by Grocon containing 600 space. This would be the first step in bringing the site to life.

  World Square March 7 1995

A year later, a new proposal had come to life for two towers. This does not include Hordern Towers which was being developed separately. The corner of Goulburn and Pitt Street would no longer have a tower, but a smaller building comprising of hotel and serviced apartments. 

World Square Feb 14 1996 smh

Source: Totaro, P. 1996. "Tallest Building for our biggest hole. The Sydney Morning Herald, February 14: page unknown. 

World Square March 1 1996 daily telegraph 9

Source: Anonymous. 1996. "Grand plan for empty city square". The Daily Telegraph, March 1: 9. 

Interestingly, this proposal also came up in 1996, but just to develop 680 George Street. 

World Square November 30 1996 daily telegraph 19

Source: Skelsey, M. 1996. "Things are looking up in George Street". The Daily Telegraph, November 30: 19. 

Next week, I'll look at Hordern Towers, which would become the first major development on the site to be completed.