PARTS of Newcastle’s skyline and residential makeup are set to change under plans by Sydney hotel magnate Jerry Schwartz to build a nine-storey tower near the harbour for university students.
The $28 million Wharf Road proposal includes 175 double rooms with balconies.
It represents a change of heart for Dr Schwartz, who had waited three years for Newcastle council approval to build a hotel and convention centre on the site opposite his Crowne Plaza Newcastle and next to the heritage-listed nightspot Argyle House.
The arrival of the University of Newcastle city campus with its expected influx of business and law students, Dr Schwarz said, made him rethink the future of the land he bought with hotel parking in mind.
“The whole dynamic of that area is changing. There’s actually a screaming need for student accommodation,” Dr Schwarz said.
“I like to ride the wave, to see what there’s actually a need for, and I like to provide what the city needs.”
If approved by the Hunter and Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel, the student accommodation will be the first of its kind in the Hunter.
Commercial student lodges are common in places such as Sydney’s Broadway and Chatswood areas, most offering “rooming agreements” to over-18s enrolled in educational facilities.
In a part of Newcastle running out of parking, the Wharf Road building would include spaces for 90 cars and 40 motorbikes, as well as 40 bicycle lockers.
At 30 metres including a cafe and communal outdoor space it would be a storey taller than Dr Schwartz’s hotel proposal that was approved last year.
The “house rules” would limit noise, and ban gatherings after 10pm from Sunday to Thursday and from 11pm on Friday and Saturday.
Martina Zangger, who lives in the building next door, said some residents are worried about noise and losing their views.
“Some of the neighbours are concerned about the noise levels because students typically drink and party. It goes with living in town, and I think the students will bring a lot of life, but I understand that concern,” Ms Zangger said.
“There’s also the loss of light from people’s apartments. It would be great to have more consultation.”
Dr Schwartz said rent for the new units, which come with bathrooms and small kitchens, would be “commensurate with the area”.
The four University of Newcastle residential towers that opened in early 2015 at Callaghan charge students from $177 to $354 per week.
Students living in the buildings have access to the university’s Student Living services, career support and a social welfare coordinator.