A developer’s plan to “change the face” of Kings Cross by demolishing a prominent block of buildings and replacing them with a modern complex is proving controversial with locals.
The $47 million development spans 18-32 Darlinghurst Road, encompassing the Bourbon Hotel (which was the site of the former Bourbon and Beefsteak restaurant), the Empire Hotel and the building which housed Les Girls.
The development proposal lodged with the City of Sydney states that the buildings would be demolished, except for the northern and western facades, and replaced with apartments and retail space, with the Bourbon and Empire Hotels remaining in an altered form.
Sam Arnaout, the developer behind the project and the chief executive of IRIS Capital, said the development was an inevitable part of an area changed by the lock-out laws that killed the nightlife and club scene.
“People now refer to Kings Cross as simply Potts Point,” he said.
“Kings Cross has vanished.
“Most of these buildings sit vacant on the top floors.
“It’s time for a change.”
But long-term resident and president of the Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Society, Andrew Woodhouse, said the proposed building was a “degradation of the streetscape” and breached planning rules around height and apartment sites.
“We’re not against development — we’re for improvement,” he said.
Mr Woodhouse said council should send the designs back to the drawing board and ask the developer to come up with a more “sympathetic” design.
Design ‘ugly’, ‘not unique’
Local resident Paul White called the design a “monstrosity” which “doesn’t add anything to the area”.
“It has no architectural merit. It’s far too dense for the area.
“It’s ugly as sin.”
Resident Judith said she was happy with the gentrification of the area but the current design was not unique and would “detract from the identity of the Cross”.
Mr Arnaout said the development was “well considered” and residents would be consulted.
“We’re more than happy to talk and consult with the community to ensure that whatever is delivered to this landmark location is here for generations to stay,” she said.
Residents have until January 24 to lodge their views with council.