Pontiac Land Group hosted distinguished guests from the NSW government, City of Sydney and the Singapore High Commission to Australia at a special ceremony marking the completion of Capella Sydney’s construction phase.

Following seven years of meticulous planning, conservation and renovations, the former Department of Education building has been transformed into a 192-room hotel where contemporary design meets storied architectural features.

Opening in March 2023, Capella Sydney will elevate luxury accommodation options for business and leisure travellers, bringing heightened cultural immersion to the city’s historical Sandstone Precinct and contributing to the relaunch of Australia’s high-end tourism economy post-covid.

The event opened with a First Nations Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country, followed by speeches from David Tsang, Chief Executive Officer of Pontiac Land Group, The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Councillor Clover Moore and His Excellency Anil Kumar Nayar, Singapore High Commissioner to Australia.

Guests were hosted in the hotel’s entrance foyer, where four specially commissioned heritage interpretation artworks by renowned Australian artist Judy Watson were unveiled within the Education Building’s original directory boards.

“It took seven years of planning, conservation work and renovations, and although not easy, the stunning result makes it worthwhile. Pontiac Land has collaborated with the City in the areas of heritage restoration and interpretation, public art and most recently Sydney’s North Public Domain Plan Update so we knew these precious buildings were in good hands,” said The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Councillor Clover Moore. 

“We are working with Pontiac Land and the team to undertake public works to Farrer Place and to achieve a service tunnel under Loftus Street to the former Lands Department building, another landmark sandstone building.”

And from March, when Capella Sydney opens to its first guests, it will add to the vibrancy of our Quay Quarter with its web of laneways and variety of venues in heritage buildings. A once strictly nine-to-five part of town will be alive around the clock, and the hotel will be a wonderful addition to the rejuvenated Circular Quay precinct.”

A holistic mixed-use development in the making

Capella Sydney is a two-phase restoration project, comprising two heritage properties – the former Department of Education building and Department of Lands building, collectively known as the Sandstone Precinct.

Restoration works at the Department of Lands building are still underway, with an estimated completion date in 2026. Upon completion, Capella Sydney will be extended into a mixed-use development with larger-scale event and meeting spaces, curated retailers and signature food and beverage establishments, catering to both luxury travellers and the precinct’s thriving business scene.

The extended Capella Sydney will become one of the largest privately funded tourism infrastructure projects in NSW and one of the biggest job-creating foreign investments in Sydney. An economic impact analysis by Ernst and Young estimates it will create over 500 full time equivalent jobs across the construction and tourism sectors and contribute approximately A$1.2bn both directly and indirectly to Sydney’s economic output.

Pontiac Land’s scale of investment on the project is comparable to the International Convention Centre in Sydney’s Darling Harbour and Allianz Stadium at Moore Park.

An amalgamation of Singaporean and Australian expertise and experience

Pontiac Land Group was awarded the lease and redevelopment project in 2015, following a rigorous and competitive public tender process where the Group demonstrated a strong track record for transforming spaces and communities through iconic architecture, thoughtful design and luxury hospitality.

As one of Singapore’s pioneering developers, Pontiac Land has played an instrumental role in shaping Singapore’s luxury real estate landscape, particularly along the city’s iconic Orchard Road shopping belt and idyllic Marina Bay waterfront business district.

The privately-held real estate company takes a long-term view on their investments and firmly believes in uplifting and growing alongside the communities they operate in. Throughout the project, Pontiac Land made every effort to engage Australian companies and craftspeople in this iconic restoration project.

Over 95% of the project’s builders, craftspeople and consultants are local Australian companies, including Essence Project Management and Built, one of Australia’s largest construction groups who have been involved since the project’s tendering stage in 2014.

Since then, Essence has grown from a small talented team of three individuals into a 50-person state-accredited service provider. Built, which has been spearheading the complex restoration works at both the Education and Lands buildings, is now recognised as one of the country’s most innovative tier one contractors and trusted heritage adaptive reuse experts.

“The work on the Sandstones Precinct was a wonderful opportunity to make better use of government assets to boost the NSW economy with the creation of hundreds of construction and hospitality jobs,” said Leon Walker, Chief Executive Officer, Property and Development NSW. “It also means these landmark buildings will, for the first time, be open to locals and visitors to enjoy.”

“We are thankful for the trust extended to Pontiac Land of these historically significant buildings. Capella Sydney demonstrates the Group’s expertise in architectural and heritage conservation, our commitment to be a custodian of Australian art and culture, and our beliefs in creating inspiring environments in partnership with the local communities,” said David Tsang, Chief Executive Officer of Pontiac Land Group.

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