It was on 5 August when artist Urthboy took to social media to break the news that the ‘Rich Street Innovation Hub’ in the inner-west Sydney suburb of Marrickville was being put on hold.

The project, which has been promoted as a ‘cultural precinct, by the NSW Labor party and Mayor Darcy Byrne, promised the former industrial site, would become the home of almost 500 artists, creatives, start-ups and designers mainly of CALD backgrounds and feature a community outdoor cinema, studios and pop-up galleries.

“This development in Marrickville was approved partly cos they promised a ‘cultural precinct’ to trade off the enormous apartment complex they’re building next door. They’ve booted out countless creative businesses inc ours,” Urthboy had posted.

The CEO of Danias Holdings Angelo Angelopoulos confirmed the news in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald citing the loss of potential tenants as the reason behind placing the project on hold. The development was pitched five years ago as a cultural precinct, seeking to encourage more diverse industries and drive local business and employment to the area.

Photo: Twitter

“Following approval, expressions of interest were sought from interested creative industry companies looking for long-term leases to locate in the hub. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all interested companies withdrew,” Angelopoulos said.

“Without a critical mass of tenants committed to long-term leases it is not possible to proceed with construction at this stage. We remain committed to proceeding with building the hub when market conditions improve. In the interim, some temporary sheds have been put on the site to provide some activation and improve the local amenity.”

At the moment, the 18-hectare development which mainly consists of factory sheds is being used as a food and beverage facility, including an artisanal gelato production house.

Among the many locals that have expressed their disappointment by some locals, is Inner West Mayor, Darcy Byrne.

“The landowners promised the local community this would be delivered and they should keep their word and get the hub opened so that artists can make use of it,” the Mayor said, highlighting that part of the Government’s promises three years ago was the realisation of this project.