The Australian arm of global tech giant Google, which currently employs 1200 people, mostly in Sydney, is looking for a new home, having already outgrown its current HQ next to the Star casino on the edge of the CBD.
Today the company confirmed it’s in negotiations with the government’s property development arm UrbanGrowth NSW, about redeveloping the heritage-listed site, which was built a century ago to provide power for the city’s nascent electric train and tram network. The coal-fired power station ran for nearly 70 years until shutting down on Christmas Day, 1983.
The site was sold to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority for $4 million in 2000 and finding a new use for the 38,000 m2 building has been the subject of ongoing speculation until two years ago, when premier Mike Baird announced an ambitious plan to redevelop a massive 5.5km, 80 hectare stretch of the harbour foreshore, dubbed the Bays Precinct, which includes the power station.
The Baird government wants to repurpose the building, 2km from the CBD and 1.5km west of Google’s current HQ, as part of the technology hub that includes the 10 hectares of surrounding harbour foreshore land, which includes the site of the temporary Sydney exhibition centre, which is being rebuilt in Darling Harbour.
After 13 proposals from private developers were all rejected by the government in June, because they relied on high density housing to pay for the rehabilitation of the site, Baird and planning minister Andrew Stokes handed responsibility for redeveloping the site to UrbanGrowth NSW, which wants a tenant signed up by the end of the year, with plans to get the restoration work underway in 2017.
In recent years, the disused and abandoned site, which is inaccessible by the public, has been used as a film set for The Matrix Reloaded and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. The architectural style of the powerhouse has been described as Federation Anglo-Dutch architectural style and it only made the State Heritage Register a decade ago.
The site was stripped of most of its assets in the 1990s, but one of every piece of machinery was kept in place for posterity in the hope it would provide historic tours of how a coal-fired power station works some time down the track.
UrbanGrowth NSW made an amazing video that takes you on a tour inside the derelict building, so here’s a sneak peek inside Google’s potential new home:
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