Sydney's most controversial harbourside apartment block could be given a new lease of life with supporters calling for socially-minded developers to purchase the brutalist Sirius building for a mix of social and affordable housing.
The NSW government wants to sell the site – which has been used for social housing for more than 30 years – to developers who’d knock down the building and replace it with hundreds of private apartments.
But community group Save Our Sirius says its proposal could see the original building remain as the “heart of Sydney”.
The plan is contingent on a “socially minded” developer purchasing the building and developing some of the existing apartments into affordable housing, and the others into public housing.
Save Our Sirius spokesman Ben Peake suggests property group Lendlease could be the saviour given it’s required to build dozens of affordable homes in or near Barangaroo South as part of its deal to develop the precinct.
“Lendlease needs to develop 64 affordable housing units within five kilometres of or in Barangaroo and we’re thinking perhaps they could use Sirius to meet that demand,” Mr Peake said.
“It’s a win for the heritage of the building and it does something for the housing affordability issue in NSW.”
Lendlease has already committed to building 39 units on site and declined to comment on the suggestion it could purchase Sirius.
The NSW government in 2016 rejected an application for the 79-unit Sirius building to be heritage listed despite a unanimous recommendation from the Heritage Council.
The SOS group has appealed that decision in the Land and Environment Court with a decision expected in the coming months.
But Mr Peake says even if they lose the court battle the building can be saved if the relevant NSW minister changes tack.
“The minister could (still) make a decision and use this opportunity to say they’ve listened to the public and put it on the register and then have conversations about what the future of the building is,” he said.
Sirius’ two remaining tenants are being pushed out – including a 90-year-old woman who is legally blind – with fences blocking access to parts of the building and black plastic blocking the view from some rooms.
Residents have been relocated over the past two-and-a-half years in a process the Department of Family and Community Services insists has been well managed.