Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes has made an impassioned plea for Sydney to grow up.
In a column for the Daily Telegraph, Hemmes says Sydney has an opportunity to turn around its global reputation as a city that shuts down after dark and become a 24 hour “destination” city on an international scale.
“Over the past five years, Sydney’s CBD has undergone a significant decline in its vibrancy and attraction to both locals and visitors alike,” he wrote. “No longer do we have a reputation as a ‘destination’ city on an international scale.”
But with the Sydney CBD light rail project almost ready to launch, the city has an “unprecedented opportunity” to bring the city’s hospitality scene back to life, he says. The next step is for the NSW government’s review of the licensed premises lockout laws to enable “a vibrant night-time economy in the CBD”.
“Importantly, Sydney has matured since the lockout laws were originally introduced,” he wrote. “The experiences that we are seeking have diversified. Our needs have evolved, from the simple to the sophisticated. And at all times, everyone wants to feel safe no matter what time of day or night.
“In the city, though, we have the opportunity to create a vibrant future – to rebuild our CBD to the world-class destination we once were, and can be again. A city with a safe, fun and diverse culture that reflects the 24-hour energy of the likes of Tokyo, London and New York.”
Hemmes says the key is to allow businesses, in particular hospitality venues, to trade 24 hours.
“Extended trade will enable people to stay, shop and socialise in the area and will remove the after-dark ghost town atmosphere we currently experience,” he wrote. “It will bring life, light and activity around the clock.
“If we want to be an international city and a city of choice, we need to start behaving like one.”