As Sam Arnaout prepared to unveil the first stage of the redevelopment of Newcastle’s Hunter Street mall on Thursday evening the Iris Capital chief executive believed he was delivering a unique product to “position the East End on the world stage”.
Stage one of the $750million, four-stage project, features a new development on the corner and King and Perkins streets along with Washington House on Hunter Street.
Together, 155 apartments will go on the market from Saturday, starting at a price of $490,000.
“I think the exciting thing about what’s being unveiled is that it’s actually happening, the fact that something that has been mooted for a very long time is coming to life.” Mr Arnaout said.
“Iris and myself are very proud to be bringing to market what has been a long time anticipated.
“We really believe what we’re bringing to market is very unique and special in its own right. There’s a lot to be excited about.”
The first stage is apartments only, which will be a mix of one, two and three bedrooms. The overall masterplan is a vision for a world-class urban village, complete with small boutique shops at ground level, apartments on upper levels and spaces and places for public activation throughout the site.
The result, Mr Arnaout said, would be “a public domain space that is enjoyed by the entire community”.
“It’s been a lot of hard work but we’re very excited to be able to share with the people of Newcastle, the Novocastrians, the vision that we’ve put together,” he said.
He said a masterplan approval was in place and the a Development Application was currently being considered for stage one and “whatever we are selling will be subject to DA approval”.
Features of the proposed works include construction of three multi-storey buildings ranging from 10 to 11 storeys in height and include the retention and adaptive reuse of the former David Jones building for ground level retail uses and residential apartments above.
“We’ve respected what is heritage about the East End and haven’t turned our back to it,” Mr Arnaout said.
“We hope our buyers will see what we see within the East End, which is that natural beauty.
“It’s very hard to point to a single point of difference. Everything about what we’re doing in the East End is going to be groundbreaking.
“The selection of the architecture that we’ve put into it, it’s a calibration of award-winning architects that have come together to deliver a very unified approach to position the East End on the world stage.”
The development aims to bring the harbour city a touch of Europe or even Melbourne, with meandering laneways, central courts and plazas.
“It is Melbourne-esque, no doubt about it,” Mr Arnaout said.
“I think the streets of anywhere in the world, be it Manhattan or be it Melbourne, in any of the great cities around the world, you see those laneway activations.
“It was a real opportunity to create some circulations between the blocks and to bring the public into what will ultimately be a very unique and activated street space within the developments.”
Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel said attracting a developer who sees the value in the East End “has been a great win” and the unveiling of the first stage was a pivotal moment for the city.
“I think there’s a real opportunity to get excited about what all of these changes are going to be and this is the first cab off the rank at that end of town,” Mr Cassel said.
“This will become one of those sought-after areas.
“Change is hard for everyone and I get there’s lots going on in the city. It’s like doing an extension on your house; you hate it while the builder’s there but when he’s gone, you say, how great is this. That’s the process we’re in now.”
Construction on stage one of East End is due to commence in the first quarter of 2018 with completion due in mid-2020.
The East End display suite at 185 Hunter Street, the former David Jones building, will open at 10am on September 16.