economics

Sydney's Most Iconic House Isn't Joining the Property Downturn

Sydney's Most Iconic House Isn't Joining the Property Downturn

The Sydney Opera House Photographer: Cole Bennetts/Bloomberg
Photographer: Cole Bennetts/Bloomberg

The Sydney Opera House’s price-tag has been put at A$6.2 billion ($4.5 billion), jumping by more than a third in just five years.

That’s Deloitte Access Economics’s new estimate of the building’s so-called social value, which seeks to quantify a range of benefits from economic return to cultural and iconic status. The upbeat report paints a very different picture to the city’s residential property market, where prices are dropping at the fastest rate since the global financial crisis.

“The Opera House is Australia’s premier cultural institution and tourism destination,” Deloitte said in its ‘Revaluing Our Icon’ report Thursday. “It is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a masterpiece of human creative genius and a world-class performing arts center.”

Indeed, the property is in a somewhat different league to other Sydney real estate. It spurred just under A$1 billion in tourism expenditure in fiscal 2017 and is estimated to support more than 8,000 full-time equivalent jobs, Deloitte found. Almost nine out of 10 international visitors said the Opera House was a consideration in their decision to visit Sydney.

Danish architect Joern Utzon’s design for the building was selected in 1957 after a worldwide competition. The 1.82-hectare (4.5-acre) structure is located on a platform podium for which Utzon found inspiration in the Mayan building culture. It includes five halls with some 5,500 combined seats.

Decades on, the Opera House remains Australia’s No. 1 tourist destination. It attracted 10.9 million visitors -- including 2.9 million from overseas -- in fiscal 2017, which is up 46 percent since 2013, Deloitte said.

Deloitte surveyed 3,000 Australians and 500 international tourists from the U.S., China, U.K. and New Zealand for the report, which was commissioned to mark the 45th anniversary of the building’s opening.