Mogul reveals new casino will open this year
Crown Resorts' $2.4 billion Barangaroo project will open this year, more than three months ahead of schedule, owner James Packer has revealed as he made his first ever visit to the controversial site and his future home.
The Sydney Harbour foreshore development was to open sometime early 2021 but better weather and a smarter "top-down build" approach has meant fit out is already well underway with intentions to open to the public now by this December.
Mr Packer landed in Sydney on Wednesday morning with girlfriend Kylie Lim and together with his mother Ros Packer immediately made his way to Barangaroo on Sydney Harbour's foreshore to see his project.
"Wow, just wow", he told News Corp Australia as he arrived on site and gazed up to the so-far completed 55th floor.
"When it's completed this will be my home and in my business career probably something I am the most proud of," he said.
"It wasn't easy to get done and we've got challenges in front of us but we are trying to build something special."
He said completion of the project was for his dad Kerry but mostly for himself, as his achievement.
"Look there is always an element of things like that, wanting your parents to be proud of you but today its for me being here to enjoy it. It's taken shape, it's sculptural the way its meant to be and I'm pretty excited. "
Mr Packer, who toured multiple floors of the structure, said Crown had a vision that rival The Star could not match and Sydney needed it.
"I am a Sydney boy and Sydney deserves something at least as good as there is in Melbourne and this is a once in a lifetime site and once in a lifetime to do something that lasts, that brings tourism to Australia, that provides jobs for workers and pays considerable taxes to the government. It's a win."
Mr Packer said he believed in 10 years Barangaroo would be one of the great precincts in the world. He said he would be spending more time in Sydney.
News Corp Australia was invited on an exclusive tour with Mr Packer and his entourage.
In the middle of last year Mr Packer resigned from 22 directorships in Australia, including Consolidated Press Holdings, as he battled mental health challenges and sought to spend more time with his family.
Mrs Packer said it was good to have her boy, whom she described as sensitive, home and to see the site.
"I'm thrilled," she said. "I am very happy with where he (James) is at. I travel a lot to see him, be with him and see that he is okay, I would see him for every six weeks to two months and I feel he is in a much better space, a more positive space.
"I think to come here to see this will really give him such a boost, give us all a boost, we in the family. Mentally he is in a much better space which is wonderful."
Mr Packer's short visit to Australia comes ahead of the unprecedented January 21 public inquiry into Crown by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority probing its suitability to hold Sydney's Barangaroo casino licence.
The inquiry, being conducted by Patricia Bergin SC, will consider Mr Packer's
proposed $1.76bn sale of almost 20 per cent of Crown to Hong Kong billionaire Lawrence Ho's Melco Group to establish whether it would breach Barangaroo's restricted gaming licence. Backed by the NSW and Victorian gaming regulators and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), it will also look at allegations Crown had breached gambling and money laundering laws and partnered with dubious junket operators with links to organised crime.
Mr Packer said he was happy to assist the inquiry where he could.