Renew Newcastle group eyes empty properties

IMPACT: Cr Jason Dunn’s proposal will enlist the help of  the council.

RENEW Newcastle could be given access to vacant buildings owned by Newcastle City Council, under a proposal that will be considered next week.

Cr Jason Dunn, who is pushing the idea, said it would benefit both the council and the city.

‘‘It’s not something that’s going to cost the council a lot of money,’’ he said.

Renew Newcastle had done more to revitalise Newcastle than anyone, Cr Dunn said.

The motion asks council staff to identify council-owned or council-operated properties in the CBD suitable for use by Renew Newcastle – even if they are only available short term.

Cr Dunn also asks staff to investigate policy proposals that could provide incentives to inner-city properties owners to participate in the program.

He said a 2011 survey showed that the initiative had had a massive impact, helping to activate otherwise empty shopfronts.

‘‘For every dollar invested in the Renew Newcastle program, the program generates an impressive 10 times that in economic benefit to the city,’’ the motion said.

‘‘Council can certainly help in that regard and I think if the council has properties that might be suitable and Renew Newcastle can make use of them on a temporary basis, then we should help.’’

Last month the state government was forced to backtrack on a decision to slash funding to the program after a public outcry.

The renewal group has recently opened up the former David Jones building as ‘‘The Emporium’’.

It will be taking interested people on a guided tour of Renew Newcastle sites from 5.30pm today.

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