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Sydney Modern expansion status uncertain after contractor withdraws bid

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Construction company Lendlease has reportedly withdrawn its initial bid to build the long-planned Sydney Modern expansion at the Art Gallery of NSW in Australia, submitting a revised bid for the project.

The AUS$344m (US$233m, €210m, £193m) project was first announced six years ago and has been funded mostly by the New South Wales (NSW) Government, with AUS$100m (US$68m, €61m, £56m) coming from private philanthropy. However, when initially announced in 2013 the project carried a AU$400m (US$272m, €244m, £224m) value, being revised up to AUS$450m (US$305m, €275m, £252m) a year later, and then pared back to AUS$344m to fit the funds available.

The design for the Sydney Modern expansion ‒ a series of cascading glass boxes envisioned by Japanese architectural firm SANAA ‒ has also been pared back in line with the budget restrictions.

Infrastructure NSW is managing the project on behalf of the art gallery and the NSW Government, and its spokesperson told ABC News that the procurement process to appoint a construction partner was "ongoing". However, political opposition to the NSW Government cast doubt on whether the funding was in place and whether the project's proposed 2021 finish date would hold.

Announcing that the Sydney Modern project had received planning approval in November 2018, Don Harwin, minister of the arts for the NSW Government, said the expansion would allow the Art Gallery of NSW to "become one of the world’s great art museums, increasing visitation to an expected two million people a year".

Projections are that it would inject over AUS$1bn (US$680m, €610m, £560m) into the NSW economy over 25 years and double the number of visitors to the Art Gallery of NSW.

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Construction company Lendlease has reportedly withdrawn its initial bid to build the long-planned Sydney Modern expansion at the Art Gallery of NSW in Australia, submitting a revised bid for the project.
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