BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore abandoned plans to create a bike hub at Taylor Square at council on Monday, after letting the building stand empty for three years and spending more than $2 million on developing plans for it.
Formerly the 24 hour T2 nightclub, the building was purchased in 2010 for $7.14 million in order to stop brawls that routinely took place on Sunday mornings at the venue. Lord Mayor Clover Moore championed the purchase so that a “bike hub” could be established at the site.
Clover Moore’s Independents, Green and Liberal Councillors voted in favour of the plan to seek expressions of interest in the building, but it was opposed by Labor Councillor Linda Scott. She called for the building to be retained by council, and a permanent LGBTQI museum installed in the building.
She warned selling the building would see a return to the “bad old days” of violence at Taylor Square. She said that a museum would bring “life and colour” back into the area which is currently mostly comprised of bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
“With the rainbow flag flying proudly over Taylor Square, a LGBTIQ museum or cultural space can be a major drawcard for visitors to Sydney and invigorate interest in the history of Mardi Gras and the struggle for LGBTIQ rights,” Clr Scott said.
President of the Darlinghurst Business Partnership, Stephan Gyory, sent out an email on Tuesday afternoon, calling on the council to save the building.
When contacted by City Hub, Mr Gyory was surprised that the City had not consulted his organisation about the move. He said rather than sell it, the council should put something in the building which would draw people into the area.In the email, he said he wasn’t opposed to private enterprise operating out the building, but it would be beneficial to have something other than a food and drink venue.
“It would be a shame to see it go private because it is a public space and it needs something to activate the other businesses in the suburb,” he told City Hub.
Liberal Councillor Christine Foster said the backflip by the Lord Mayor had meant the “real losers were the ratepayers”.
The proposed bike hub would have cost an estimated $17 million dollars. The council’s website said it would activate the daytime economy in the local area as well as servicing the estimated 2,300 bike riders who ride through Taylor Square on a daily basis.
But Christine Foster did not share the optimism for the benefits of the bike hub.
“All the bike hub essentially ever was a bike themed café, which in my view made no significant contribution to anything, including the local economy. I’ve been opposing the Lord Mayor’s plans since 2012, because I have always claimed it is likely to be a grave misuse of planned $17 million in ratepayer’s money.”
A City spokesperson told City Hub that council rejected tenders for the bike hub in November last year, after a report from City staff showed tenders were above expected costs.
The spokesperson said the CEO advised that the private sector had embraced cycling, allowing the City to step back.
“The City will now run an Expression of Interest process to find qualified and experienced project experts to buy and refurbish the building and help meet the City’s objective of transforming the Taylor Square area.”
The spokesperson said the building requires “extensive work,” including exterior work which would must meet strict heritage standards.