State government buys The Store: Poll

THE state government has emerged as the successful buyer of The Store building in Hunter Street, paving the way for a revamp of its plans for the nearby Wickham transport interchange project.

An offer from government developer UrbanGrowth NSW for the 12,000-square-metre site has been accepted by the administrators of former Newcastle Jets owner Con Constantine’s company, Almona Pty Ltd.

The property, at 854-868 Hunter Street, backs onto the site of the interchange, providing more room for buses and taxi ranks, as well as potential car parking, which is missing altogether from the project’s current plans.

Planning minister Rob Stokes said the terms of the sale would remain confidential until settlement, which is expected in six weeks.

‘‘Securing this site will provide exciting opportunities to build on the NSW government’s $460 million investment to transform the city and provide top-notch public transport,’’ Mr Stokes said.

“The NSW government has taken this important step to ensure this city has even more options for rejuvenation as new and accessible transport is delivered.”

Laing O’Rourke Construction was awarded the $73 million design and construction contract for the interchange in December last year. But so far, only preparatory works for the interchange have been carried out.

The Hunter Development Corporation, UrbanGrowth NSW and Transport for NSW will now consider how the site ‘‘will be utilised to provide connectivity, renewal and better integrated as work progresses’’.

PPB Advisory put the property on the market through Colliers International Newcastle. Expressions of interest closed earlier this month.

With its 90-metre height limit and long Hunter Street frontage, The Store is among the largest and most strategic sites for redevelopment in the city. The west end of Newcastle is earmarked as the city’s future commercial centre.

Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Kristen Keegan dubbed the purchase a positive step forward that opened up possibilities for the area.

“This acquisition shows a true commitment from government and demonstrates vision for future development,’’ she said.


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