Monday, 7 September 2015

1973: Hundreds of City Buildings facing the bulldozer

In 1973, some thought Sydney's high-rise boom was not going to abate, and hundreds of old city buildings were facing their hour of doom.

Four decades later, it is interesting to note a number of featured buildings that faced doom, only to be spared the wreckers ball, like Central Baptist Church, ANZ Bank Building and Stawell House. The Regent Theatre survived for another fifteen years before facing the wreckers in 1989. In fact, the ANZ Bank Building and Stawell House are now heritage listed so they will never be pulled down.

City buildings like those in the article were initially saved because of the liquidity crisis that sent city developers to the wall that same year. Some went bust. The boom had also created an oversupply of office space in central Sydney, which meant that city development would crawl slowly for about a decade.  The economic reforms of the Hawke Government (1983-1991) would fuel the next wave of city development. Add the Green Bans and anti-development groups, and more buildings would find themselves saved from the wreckers. 

In 1973, at least a billion dollars was to be spent on new city developments, which is the equivalent of $8 billion in today's money. At the moment, roughly two billion dollars is being spent on building developments in central Sydney, and we think that is a mammoth amount.

Source: "Our Civic Reporter". 1973. "150 City Buildings Face Wreckers: Offices, flats, cinemas and parking planned". The Sydney Morning Herald, June 28: 3. 

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