Hunter Development Corporation says it should be no surprise that developers are building seven-storey apartment towers along the waterfront as it prepares to choose the successful bidder for its latest vacant block.
HDC has whittled down the parties interested in 35 Honeysuckle Drive to a shortlist of three and will now start a “rigorous architectural design process”.
The site will accommodate up to 90 apartments plus retail and commercial space and will sit alongside Doma Group’s seven-storey Lume development on the temporary car park at No.21.
The two buildings will obscure the water views of the units and offices along the southern side of Honeysuckle Drive and taller residential towers further south.
HDC has sold four blocks in the past four years and will sell its remaining land, along the water’s edge to the Wickham marina and between Cottage Creek and the Wickham interchange, in the coming years.
The corporation’s property development director, Valentina Misevska, said planning controls for the area had been in place for some time and the loss of views was expected.
“It’s part of the development process. This land was always earmarked for development, so there’s no surprises there,” she said. “The height around there is 24 metres, so there is a lot higher development happening in other parts of the city.”
Critics of the rail line truncation have argued that tall waterfront buildings replace one man-made barrier to the harbour with another, but Ms Misevska said the design process for the latest project would ensure “connections” for views and pedestrians.
“Some of those access ways do those two things. So there’s a number of opportunities available for the public to flow through from Hunter St to Honeysuckle Drive and through to the waterfront.
“We’ve obviously got the continuation of the public promenade that will continue along the waterfront.”
HDC’s two-stage selection process is aimed at elevating the design of the development, which sits on 5250 square metres of land. It anticipates finalising a design and successful tenderer by the end of the year.
A handful of recent unit towers, including the adjacent Lume development, Iris Capital’s East End and EG’s Herald Apartments, have offered more ambitious architectural statements than has been the norm in Newcastle.
“From what I understand the Iris product is selling really well, and it’s certainly setting great levels and a great example to the east end as well,” Ms Misevska said.
“There’s different products across the city. We’ve got waterfront developments here that we’re really driving to give those sorts of feel to.”