The public park at Barangaroo will not be ready for another five years despite promises of an earlier date. Crown Resorts is building the park as part of its $2.2 billion development at Barangaroo. An inquiry into Crown’s suitability for a New South Wales casino licence casts doubts over the scheduled December opening.

December 14 is the date Crown plans to open its lavish $2.2 billion Barangaroo casino. The inquiry won’t give its verdict into Crown’s suitability for a licence until February 2021. Crown plans to open regardless and deal with the relevant governing bodies if and when it needs to.

The Planning Assessment Commission approved a 75-storey tower at Barangaroo South in 2016. Crown agreed to build a one-hectare park, called Hickson Park, to the east of the casino. The park was a condition of the tower’s approval.

World-renowned landscape architects Grant & Associates designed the park. The same company designed the famous and beautiful Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Their design includes a fully-accessible amphitheatre-style boardwalk on the water. It will be a magnet for visitors and Barangaroo workers.

Plans show a similarity between Hickson Park and New York City’s Bryant Park. It connects the central business district to the retails and dining precinct at Barangaroo South.

Delays Guaranteed at Barangaroo Park

Consent for the casino insists the Barangaroo park be completed, landscaped and be accessible to the public before the government issues an occupation certificate for Crown’s six-star Sydney hotel and resort. Developers are pushing to delay completion, however. They argue completing the park now risks having to rip it up during construction of the Central Barangaroo precinct. That isn’t expected to be ready until 2025.

Crown applied to amend its approval conditions, allowing it to complete the park in stages over the next five years.

Consultants Ethos Urban explained more.

“The modifications to Hickson Park relate only to its stages, are required to maintain public safety, and to avoid works that may subsequently need to be demolished or rebuilt in the future as a consequence of the delivery of building at Barangaroo South and Central Barangaroo.

Inquiry Casts Serious Doubts About Crown Obtaining a Casino Licence

There are serious doubts as to whether Crown is suitable for a casino licence in Sydney. The company has piled in billions of dollars into the Barangaroo project but may not be able to open the casino.

The commissioner running the inquiry described Crown’s management team as “dysfunctional.”

The inquiry launched after James Packer, Crown’s majority shareholder, agreed to sell 19.9% of his holding. This wouldn’t normally raise eyebrows, but Packer agreed to sell to Lawrence Ho of Melco Resorts.

Lawrence Ho is the son of the late Stanley Ho, a person Crown was banned from having dealings with, even indirect ones, as part of their Sydney licence. Ho Jr was listed as a director or one of the companies on the prohibited list. He’s since been removed, but the deal opened a can of worms.

Packer faced intense grilling for several days and didn’t exactly cover himself in glory. Packer admitted he was responsible for driving the junket strategy that caused Crown so many problems.

He also admitted he sent abusive and threatening emails to a TPB boss Ben Gray. Gray mulled over a privatisation deal with Crown and Packer took offence in the delays.

Packer accepts he may have to divest part of his 36% holding in Crown following the inquiry. That last part shouldn’t bother Packer too much because he’s been looking to get out of the casino business.

Major restructuring of Crown is on the cards, especially its senior management team. Packer said he won’t be returning to board of director duties.

“I think this has been a terribly painful and terribly shocking experience for the board, as it has for me. I won’t be going on the board again, I think the board will be more independent that it was in the past.”