400 new car-parking spaces as Gibson Street goes higher, with a makeover | photos, video, poll

NEWCASTLE could soon have 400 new car-parking spaces just a block away from Hunter Street, potentially easing concerns over a loss of parking from the proposed city light rail.

Darren Nicholson, the Lake Macquarie businessman who bought the Bolton Street and Gibson Street carparks from Newcastle City Council for about $10 million in 2012, confirmed plans for a major overhaul of the Gibson Street building, adding four floors – and a stylish new facade – in the process.

The Gibson Street car-park faces Union Street next door to the Newcastle Permanent’s head office.

Mr Nicholson said Newcastle City Council had already approved an extra four storeys of commercial space, taking it to much the same height as The Perm building.

"Given the state of the market, we’ve decided four more floors of parking is a better way to go,” Mr Nicholson said.

“But we have to work out whether it is best be done through an amendment to the existing Development Approval or through a new application," Mr Nicholson said. "Either way, there’s an overall envelope approval and we will stay within that."

Planning documents show the light rail will remove at least 400 car-parking spaces from Hunter Street and King Street. Mr Nicholson said various new developments including the University of Newcastle’s NeW Space building were adding substantially to demand for parking. Having already improved the appearance and operation of both car-parks, he said the Gibson Street overhaul, including easier vehicle access and new lifts, would cost about $14 million.

He was also planning a ground-floor child-care facility, reviving a service he said was provided in the early days of the Gibson Street car-park, opened in 1971.

Giant murals installed as part of the city’s Hit The Bricks festivals adorn both car-parks, and while the Adnate/Numskull mural on the front of the Gibson Street car-park will disappear, Mr Nicholson said the artists had always known their works might not be permanent.

But there would be other spaces in the expanded building suitable for new murals.

Mr Nicholson said he believed strongly in the presentation of buildings and had worked closely with the architects on the Gibson Street project to come up with “exciting” designs.

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