The Catholic Church has unveiled a bold plan to breathe new life into the site of the former Empire Hotel in Newcastle West.
The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has proposed a $30 million affordable housing development at the troubled site on Hunter Street, with a total of 128 studio, one and two bedroom units.
In doing so, the diocese is making a bid to succeed where the private sector has failed, after several unsuccessful attempts to develop the site in recent years.
The diocese has now lodged a development application with Newcastle City Council after it was successful in the tender process carried out by Hunter Development Corporation.
It is anticipated the project could be completed by early 2018.
Bishop Bill Wright said it was fitting that the church played a role in injecting more affordable housing into the city.
“The church has, and has always had, a big role in assisting people to make better lives for themselves in the community,” Bishop Wright said.
“We understand that today there's a serious need for secure, affordable housing among a variety of sectors in society.
“This site has been vacant for quite some time and we have recognised an opportunity, as a non-profit organisation to make it available, especially to people who often provide vital community services but still find it difficult to afford good housing in a competitive rental market.”
More to come.