Stand by for Sydney's empty office space conversion into apartments: NSW chief economist

NSW’s chief economist Stephen Walters acknowledged it would take changes to planning laws

Stand by for Sydney's empty office space conversion into apartments: NSW chief economist
Stand by for Sydney's empty office space conversion into apartments: NSW chief economist

<html><body><p>The empty office space in Sydney’s CBD could be transformed into residential apartments, according to NSW’s chief economist Stephen Walters.

He's told Nine Entertainment that while the central business district would eventually it would never return to pre-COVID days.

“We are not coming back in 100 per cent five days a week and so the reality is the demand for office space is not going to be what it used to be,” Mr Walters said.

He acknowledged it would take changes to planning laws.

“It could be that those extra unused floors are sublet, or even turned into residential so you have retail on the bottom, offices in the middle and residents up top,” Mr Walters said.

“That is how they do it in other cities like Hong Kong and London.”

Walters referenced downtown Manhattan, which after September 11, 2001, was transformed from a financial district into a residential precinct.

Walters will chair the state government’s second CBD Summit this week.

It will be given a report on Transport NSW data showing the number of trips into the CBD jumped to 18 million in the first quarter of this year, which while down on the 30 million trips in the same quarter last year, was up on the 8 million trips between April and July when the lockdowns were at the peak of the pandemic.

The City of Sydney contributes around 20 per cent of the state’s GDP.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet affirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald the CBD needed to be more than a business-only district.

“The CBD won’t be the same in a post-pandemic world and we need a grand vision which is a 24-hour thriving metropolis that is befitting of Australia’s only truly global city.

“This will be mix of commercial and residential and will reflect the changing nature of work.”

Office buildings in Sydney were 50 per cent occupied in March.
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Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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