Opal Tower developer defends industry as residents remain homeless



December 27, 2018 14:06:22

The developer behind Sydney’s Opal Tower has come out in defence of its building and the industry, saying it is too early to speculate and draw conclusions because of “one failed panel”.

As affected residents in the western Sydney apartment complex face a fourth night locked out of their homes after being evacuated from the building on Christmas Eve, questions over how a large crack developed in the newly-opened building remain unanswered.

Builder Icon and independent engineers are still working in the building to fix the issue. Police say a concrete panel on the 10th floor cracked, sparking the evacuation of Opal Tower and nearby residents.

Opal Tower developer Ecove, which is also behind three similar apartment tower developments in western Sydney, and Icon are both facing mounting scrutiny over the quality of the build and questions are also mounting over the streamlined New South Wales Government approvals process.

Fifty-one apartments — or about one third of the inhabited residents in Opal Tower — are still considered unsafe for residents to return, with the affected people forced to spend the Christmas holiday period in alternative accommodation.

It is still unclear when residents will be allowed to return, if at all.

Ecove director Bassam Aflak, who first spoke on the issue two days after it occurred, said the company had been as “transparent as possible”.

“We’re pushing as hard as everyone else for information on what’s happened,” Mr Aflak said in a statement.

“The city’s ‘development boom’ has not led to cutting of corners.

“There has been no cutting of corners.

“It’s too early to leap to any conclusions, for instance, to speculate on wider building issues because of what appears to be one failed panel.”

The ABC has contacted builder Icon for comment.

Icon, which is backed by Japan’s $12 billion Kajima Corporation, is a heavy-hitter in the industry and involved in numerous apartment developments across the country.

The NSW Government said yesterday it was conducting a “comprehensive investigation” into the structural integrity of the building.

The Opal Tower’s development approval came under the “state significant development” legislation — introduced in 2011 — and was given the green light by the NSW Department of Planning in 2015.

Many residents from the tower — even those not in the affected area — have indicated they will be looking for alternative accommodation.

Although some have returned home, some experts have suggested the problems in the building could trigger a fire sale.

The apartments sell for $620,000 for one bedroom and one bathroom and up to $935,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.





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