Western Sydney’s council has agreed to sell much of its CBD to a developer, along with plans for the site to include a private hospital and research center backed by controversial neurosurgeon Charlie Teo.
- Mayor Tony Blessdale wants the area to be revitalized like Parramatta
- It’s unclear how much money Congress will get from the sale
- Blacktown is NSW’s most populous LGA
Blacktown Council announced today that it has signed a multi-billion dollar deal with Walker Corporation, the company behind the $3 billion Parramatta Square project.
As part of the deal, the council sold its own parliamentary chamber and civic center grounds.
Developer chairman Lang Walker said the agreement would result in a district that “changes the way people think about Blacktown.”
Blacktown Mayor Tony Blesdale said the planned medical district will add 5,000 full-time jobs to the rapidly growing area.
Walker Corporation said it will spend about $2 billion on buildings that include hotels, retail stores and commercial spaces.
“It will revitalize the City of Blacktown’s CBD,” Bleasdale said.
“This is the time for the City of Blacktown to become a different parramatta in terms of creating jobs, supporting the local business community, retailing and more.”
With over 400,000 inhabitants, Blacktown is NSW’s most populous municipal area and is expected to exceed 615,000 by 2041.
Plans for the sale were first announced in 2021, four years after Professor Theo approached the council to propose the Blacktown Brain and Spinal Institute (BBSI).
The council says BBSI will become a “world leader” in medical research, drawing experts and patients from abroad to Blacktown.
The mayor said today that he believes BBSI is just “one component” of a larger project that will encourage greater investment in the region.
“We don’t need more $2 shops in Blacktown,” he said. “We need the image of a blacktown with plazas, restaurants and open space areas for the community to enjoy with their families.”
Professor Theo was recently involved in a medical complaints board disciplinary hearing.
He denies wrongdoing and claims that the allegations against him were influenced by his “enemies” in medicine.
Last week, former mayor and current Blacktown legislator Stephen Burr questioned the sale and expressed concern about the lack of consultation.
He wrote that the council should postpone the decision and explore different visions of the future Blacktown.
The land being sold will include the Chambers of Parliament and the Civic Center on Flashcom Road, necessitating the construction of a new headquarters.
The site also includes Bowman Hall, the Leo Kelly Arts Center, and part of the municipal parking lot.
It is unclear how much the council will receive from the sale, as meetings on the deal are held in secret. Previously, the land was estimated by council officials that he could reach $100 million.
A new $40 million art center will be built nearby, funded by the state’s WestInvest program.
Bresdale said the council “cannot stand still” and dismissed suggestions that the process was not transparent.
“There’s been massive community consultation…and tremendous support from the community,” he said.
“It would be wrong to suggest otherwise.
“We’ve been transparent all along, but we’re really outraged by allegations that this was a rush job.”
I asked Professor Theo for comment.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-20/blacktown-council-cbd-sale-charlie-teo-brain-spine-institute/102118362 Western Sydney Council developer deal paves way for Charlie Teo-backed hospital