Oxford St revitalisation gets the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet light

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SYDNEY’S struggling Oxford Street is set for a new phase of growth after joint-venture partners Toga and AsheMorgan received development approval for their plans to revitalise three heritage buildings in the once-thriving strip.

Approval comes a month after the City of Sydney proposed new planning controls that could create more than 42,500 sqm of employment floor space and 11,000 sqm of new creative and cultural floor space along Oxford Street from Greens Road, Paddington to Whitlam Square in Surry Hills, with a focus protection for local heritage buildings and celebrate the street’s indigenous and LGBTIQA+ culture and history.

The City of Sydney agreed to lease three blocks at 60, 90, and 120 Oxford Street to Ashe Morgan on a 99-year term late in 2019 before Toga was brought on and initial plans for the whole site unveiled in 2020.

The final result is intended to be a workplace, retail, creative, and dining destination that is gearing up to host the WorldPride Festival in February next year.

Known as Oxford & Foley, the transformation, designed by FJMT, will restore the heritage-listed buildings and retail frontage along Oxford Street, and the precinct includes the activation of Foley Street, creating a shared laneway featuring a prominent public art installation alongside dining, bars and boutique shopping.

There will be 9,200 sqm of office spaces and a dedicated cultural and creative space within the reclaimed heritage spaces and newly built rooftop levels. The flexible workspaces will be flooded with natural light and have expansive north-facing views of the harbour and city skyline.

Looking to reinvigorate the street life, there will be 2,300 sqm of retail in the heritage storefronts. Alongside the NSW heritage-listed Art Deco Zinc & Sons building at 56 Oxford Street will be restaurants, bars, and cafés activating the day and night-time economy.

“This is the first major refurbishment of these commercial spaces in over 25 years, and we are set to deliver something extraordinary for future tenants,” Mendy Moss, principal at AsheMorgan, said.

Allan Vidor, managing director of Toga Group said the revitalisation of Oxford Street promises to revive an exciting and hugely important part of Sydney.

“Our planned development will pay homage to the historic buildings along Oxford Street while breathing new life into an iconic location for the local community, attracting cultural, creative, tech and start-up companies, plus visitors, and tourists,”

He said the proposed redevelopment has “already created a lot of qualified interest from well-regarded local and international commercial, cultural and retail tenants alike”.

Knight Frank and Karbon Property will manage leasing for commercial areas and IB Property and Precinct Retail on the retail areas.

“There is a growing technology and creative hub in and around Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, which adds to an increasing buzz and critical mass of employment opportunity in the district,” said Ryan Grace, director of leasing for Knight Frank said.

“With occupancy rates at a 15-year low in the area, we are already fielding strong interest in the limited spaces available across the three buildings.”

The site is located on the eastern edge of the CBD at the intersection of Kings Cross, Hyde Park, Paddington and Surry Hills.

“Our concept is to create a carefully crafted interplay between the beautiful turn of the century heritage buildings and a new dynamic series of glass and metal forms that hover above,” said Richard Francis Jones, FJMT design director.

Completion of the development is planned for 2023.

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