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Parramatta to overtake North Sydney in race to become second CBD

An artist’s impression of the vision for Parramatta Square.For years Parramatta’s reputation as Sydney’s second CBD has been an aspirational drum beat by politicians and business groups, but largely unmatched by reality.

But the gap between hype and actuality is projected to close, with Parramatta on track to outstrip the growth in Sydney’s other major business centres including the city’s CBD and Macquarie Park, according to projections by real estate consultants Knight Frank.

The new data reveals Parramatta CBD will grow by 32 per cent over the next five years, which will see it eclipse North Sydney to become the third largest office market in Sydney, while closely trailing second-placed Macquarie Park.

The growth is being driven by the $2 billion Parramatta Square project, where three office towers comprising a total of 180,000 square metres of office space will be built over the next few years, bringing thousands of workers to heart of Parramatta.

Sydney Business Chamber’s western Sydney director David Borger said the concept of Parramatta Square was floated more than two decades ago, but was repeatedly plagued by delays and setbacks.

A perfect storm of political will, economic growth and the explosion in Western Sydney’s population cemented the project, with the precinct now one of the largest urban renewal projects in the country.

“Twenty years of study, talk and hype has finally led to an explosion of activity,” he said. “Finally the reality is actually out-reaching the hype.”

While Parramatta, like much of Western Sydney, has been gripped by the apartment boom, Mr Borger said the influx of new office space was a critical rebalancing toward’s the city’s business potential.

“In one short period, there will be more workers added to the CBD than residents in the next few years. This is the first time the pendulum has swung back in 30 years.”

In December, billionaire developer Lang Walker was given the green light to build two commercial towers, adding to the Walker Corporation’s ambitious plans to build the tallest residential building in NSW, the Aspire tower, nearby. In total, the Walker Corporation plans to develop five buildings in the Parramatta Square precinct.

Two of the office towers are already leased, with the National Bank announcing in December it would occupy the entire 17-storey tower at 3 Parramatta Square, which is expected to be completed by the Walker Corporation by 2020.

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