Tech giant Google has pulled out of plans to base its headquarters at a repurposed White Bay power station in Sydney’s inner west, delivering a major blow to the state government’s aim to convert the area into a technology hub.
The failure to provide public transport upgrades to the Bays Precinct in Rozelle was cited as a reason for Google’s decision to withdraw from negotiations.
White Bay redevelopment
A waterfront promenade, markets and light rail feature in the NSW government’s revamp of White Bay. Vision: Urban Growth NSW
“Ultimately, the complexity of the project and the timing of associated transport infrastructure could not meet Google’s requirements at this time,” the NSW government said on Tuesday.
A Google spokesman said the company had “mutually agreed” with government developer UrbanGrowth NSW to abandon talks of relocating its operations from Pyrmont to Rozelle, but said it remained committed to finding “an alternative long-term home here in Sydney”.
An artist’s impression of the redeveloped White Bay Power Station.
Google’s decision comes two years after former chief executive of Urban Growth David Pitchford warned the project would be a “disaster” without major new transport infrastructure.
“In the Bays, there is nowhere near the transport infrastructure that needs to be there,” Mr Pitchford said in a 2015 interview with the NSW chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.
Mr Pitchford left UrbanGrowth in December. The state government has said it would build a metro rail line with a stop around the Bays, but that project remains a decade away.
The failure to secure Google as a key leaseholder for the White Bay station underlines the difficulty of the task faced by UrbanGrowth at the Bays
Precinct. The NSW government said it remained committed to development of the White Bay Power Station as a technology and innovation hub.
Photo: Tamara Dean
UrbanGrowth angered property companies last year when it rejected 13 tenders to develop the site, including one submitted by Google as part of a consortium, because they all included too much housing development.
Last month UrbanGrowth was split in two, retaining an inner-city development arm that reports to the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, but losing control of fringe land release agency Landcom.
The government confirmed on Tuesday it remained committed to converting the White Bay Power Station into a technology hub as part of the 95-hectare Bays Precinct redevelopment, which it described as “one of the largest urban transformation projects in the world”.