Doltone House to turn Paddy’s Market into a food, beverage venue in Chinatown

“This is a Sydney institution,” said Judy Kim, who has sold jewellery at her stall for 22 years.“Mum and daddy bring the children, they come here to have fun. My customers say, ‘When I was a young child I [came] here, now I’m grown up I come here [with my children]’.”

Kim’s husband has written to Premier Dominic Perrottet and Opposition Leader Chris Minns about the matter. Bag and luggage trader Yiming Weng also said the forced move was unfair.

Long-term stallholders David Chen, Scott Kopuz and Yiming Weng are upset about the market’s plans to bring in Doltone House.

Long-term stallholders David Chen, Scott Kopuz and Yiming Weng are upset about the market’s plans to bring in Doltone House.Credit:Nick Moir

“The [area] they give to me over there, there’s nobody there, it’s just for storage,” Weng said. “Why take away our premium position? There’s plenty of room here.”

However, managers said the Doltone development would also involve a complete update and redesign of the market, so locations seen as less desirable would not stay that way.

Most traders agree the market needs to improve, and even stallholders opposed to the plan admit others support it. Souvenir trader Scott Kupoz, who has traded at Paddy’s since it moved back from Redfern in 1993, said it was perhaps the market’s management that should change.

Managers have spent years looking for a key tenant for the market, and had previously considered Chemist Warehouse, but that did not eventuate. Doltone runs several wedding and function venues around Sydney including at Jones Bay Wharf, Hyde Park and Sylvania Waters.

Managers say the market has been left behind by changing consumer preferences.

Managers say the market has been left behind by changing consumer preferences.Credit:Nick Moir

The plan still needs to clear several bureaucratic hurdles, including getting permission from government agency Placemaking NSW and development consent from the City of Sydney.

A spokesperson for Placemaking NSW said the agency was awaiting the submission of plans, and would “consider the heritage of the building, as well as revitalisation of the markets and the local area” when it makes its assessment.

The project comes at a critical juncture for Chinatown. While it has benefited from the remaking of George Street as a pedestrian and light rail boulevard, it was hit hard by COVID-19 and must now compete with the flashier new Darling Square precinct next door.

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Haymarket restaurant Zilver will close next month after 30 years, citing a redevelopment of its Hay Street building. The restaurant has another branch in Bondi Junction.

Kevin Cheng, who runs the organisation Soul of Chinatown, said the area needed to innovate and reinvent itself, but not at the expense of the existing community.

“Farmers markets and markets in general have a long-standing history in Haymarket and Chinatown. It’s still a big drawcard for locals and tourists,” he said. “So it would be a shame if that was to not exist any more. Whether or not this is the right move, I don’t know.”

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