Major building empire collapses

The company behind some of Australia’s most iconic buildings has collapsed, furiously blaming the scuppering of its plans for a major precinct.

The multi-generational family company behind some of Australia’s most iconic buildings has collapsed, furiously blaming the scuppering of its plans for the Central Barangaroo project, dominated by Crown Resorts’ new casino.

Grocon alleges rival Lendlease and the gambling giant reached a secret deal with the NSW government on building heights last year, protecting the rights of Crown tower – now Sydney’s tallest building – to unobstructed views of the harbour.

That killed off Grocon’s plans to build much smaller commercial and residential towers nearby.

Grocon chief executive Daniel Grollo is furious at Infrastructure NSW’s handling of the precinct since the closure of the Barangaroo Development Authority, which he alleges was aware for years that the dispute over the views would scupper Grocon’s proposal.

“But it withheld this information, instead continually confirming the height Grocon could build the commercial and residential towers,” Mr Grollo said.

“For almost three years, I was reassured every time the matter of sightlines was raised with the BDA that Grocon should proceed, and we continued to invest millions and millions of dollars.”

The company says it was forced to vest its development rights in a fire sale to fellow consortium member Aqualand, six years after its began pouring money into the project.

“It is unfortunate that INSW is forcing our hand to place the construction business into administration,” Mr Grollo said.

“While I have spoken before about moving Grocon away from the construction business model to new initiatives such as build to rent, I did not want to call in administrators.”

Grocon is fighting the NSW Supreme Court for compensation.

“My desire is to pay the creditors in full,” Mr Grollo said.

“I believe we will ultimately win the case against INSW, and when we do so, the creditors will be the first in line to be compensated.”

The company’s Ribbon development in Sydney and Northumberland development in Collingwood, Melbourne will not be included in the administration entities.

Mr Grollo’s grandfather Luigi founded the business in 1954.

The planned opening of Crown Sydney next month has been delayed while an inquiry continues its investigation into allegations the casino giant facilitated money laundering.

Crown made a bombshell last-minute admission this week that evidence of a form of money laundering had been detected in its bank accounts by independent assessors.

Crown says it will focus on non-gaming parts of the business, such as restaurants, while the inquiry considers its findings due to be handed down in February.

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