The controversial $11.3 million public artwork in Sydney's CBD has been likened to a giant tapeworm but passed its final hurdle after City of Sydney councillors approved the project.
Despite its budget blowout of almost $8 million, councillors voted in favour of the Cloud Arch at Tuesday night’s meeting.
The 58-metre massive steel sculpture is scheduled to soar over George Street near Town Hall by March 2019.
In a heated debate which spanned more than two hours, Cloud Arch was called many things from a tapeworm to an icon, but at the centre of the discussion was its cost, which was originally estimated to be $3.5 million in 2014.
The price hike was attributed to a rise in global steel prices, complex engineering problems associated with placing the artwork over a cavernous city underground and the expansion of the artwork from 28.5 metres in 2014 to 58 metres in its new design.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore defended the price tag, saying it will be a “magical transformation” that will complement the overall change on George Street.
“Cloud Arch going to be most significant artwork created in Australia for decades,” she said.
It was also referred to as a gift to the people of Sydney, compared to the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
“Sometimes it costs a lot of money to have ambition – that’s what happened with Opera House and Eiffel Tower,” Councillor Jess Scully said.
“It’s an icon on our skyline and an investment that will pay times over.”
However, not all councillors were convinced.
Referencing Goulburn’s Big Merino and Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana, Councillor Christine Forster said she wasn’t convinced it would pay off.
“I’m not convinced that Sydney’s big tapeworm is going to drive quite the same visitation as Goulburn and Coffs Harbour have endured from their investments,” she told the council meeting.
Others were concerned the price would rise even further with deputy mayor Kerryn Phelps saying its complexity and size were concerning.
“From all we are told, if there are other things that may come up that are currently unforeseen, it could blow out even further,” she said.
In approving the project, the council will reallocate $2.3 million currently set aside for a different public artwork and will use $5.5 million from its $80.4 million Public Domain program to fund the artwork.
Cloud Arch is expected to be completed in March 2019.