Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says she can’t assure ratepayers there won’t be further price increases on a controversial art project bound for city’s CBD which has already blown out by almost $8 million.
The updated design for Cloud Arch, a massive steel sculpture that will soar over George Street, was unveiled on Friday accompanied by a revised cost of $11.3 million up from the original price tag of $3.5 million.
Ms Moore said the price hike is due to a rise in global steel prices and complex engineering problems associated with placing the artwork over a cavernous city underground but could not promise there wouldn’t be further price hikes to the project.
“Well no I can’t give assurances now but I certainly hope … the price we now have is the basis of a lot of work and a lot of engineering examination,” she told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
“These projects are a challenge and we’ve been working on this since 2014 and as you have seen it’s dramatically changed, we’re really very committed to it.”
Critics, including Labor Councillor Linda Scott have slammed the artwork.
“This is a project that is now significantly delayed and nearly triple the budget that was originally given to council and that will necessarily mean cuts for residents and business in services and important key infrastructure,” Ms Scott told ABC Radio.
“It’s just not right.”
Ms Moore didn’t respond to individual criticisms on Friday, saying Councillors would have the opportunity to voice their opinions at the next meeting.
Supporters of the Cloud Arch say it will cater to a growing Instagram generation and put Sydney on the map, with tourism and economic benefits far outweighing the initial cost.
“You go to Chicago, everyone has their photo taken next to The Bean, that’s what’s going to happen here in Sydney,” Tourism and Transport Forum’s chief executive Maggie Osmond told reporters on Friday.
“People need a photograph of themselves with the Opera House without a doubt but the next place they come will be the arch, it’s going to be glorious.”