Novocastrian Howard Conners’ apartment on King Street is number one, unit one.
“You can’t get much closer to the beach than that without getting your feet wet,” Conners says.
The apartments were built after the old Newcastle Hospital was demolished in the earthquake.
Investors built the apartments, and Howard was the first one to move in.
Conners has since retired to Noosa, but he moved into the King Street apartment in 2006 and lived there almost 10 years.
Unfortunately, 13 months ago after his 67th birthday, he had a stroke and that led to an early retirement. He now realises he probably should have retired earlier.
“I bought it off the plan in the display centre office in Newcastle in 2006, and I was the first one to move into the complex. I moved from Hamilton into Newcastle and had all my furniture loaded up in the truck; they wouldn’t let me move in until the money was transferred,” Conners says reflecting on his original move-in date.
He ended up temporarily living out of his furniture truck until the finances were finalised. But it was worth the hiccup.
The apartment is three-bedroom, but Conners made the third bedroom into an office.
At the time, he was living at the home with his partner, and he described the style as very comfortable and modern.
He had a graffiti artist come in and paint a shipwrecked illustration.
The work featured rough seas with a lighthouse in the background, crowded by the break wall.
The born and bred Novocastrian has always liked living near water and is home in Noosa is by the river.
The river and ocean are calming, he says.
“My great grandfather was Norwegian, he came to Newcastle port; he jumped ship,” he says.
“I don’t know a lot about it, but his name was Peter Olaf Johanson.
“That would have been when Newcastle Port was full of conventional sailing ships, loading coal back in the day.”
His history and love of water led him to include many sea references in the apartment, and he even called his study The Captain’s Room.
“I had a few artefacts lying around. An American diver’s helmet, a bit of stuff hanging around to make it look more authentic, decorations for The Captain’s Room,” he says.
“A picture of different nautical knots, and a bit fun with that.”
Since he’s moved, his Newcastle apartment has undergone major renovations and paint jobs, so the accompanying photos reflect its previous décor rather than its current state.
He said the apartment’s floor plan is unique to the complex. The master bedroom overlooks the ocean and has heavy duty sliding windows, so you can open it like you’re standing on the balcony. From here you could actually exit the apartment.
“Theoretically you could get out of bed sneak in and out and no one would know,” Conners says.
“Some people call it the Ferrari of apartments; I take it that’s a good thing.”
His two favourite locations in the apartment are the balcony where he could watch surfers and, of course, The Captain’s Room, which would be his place of retreat during quiet times.
“It was certainly private, but I always had family over; my extended family had younger children and the kids loved it” he says.
“They’d go across to the beach and bring the sand back into the apartment.
“It’s a beautiful place. I miss it.”
On his balcony he’d watch the surfers at 6am. They’d catch waves until about 7:30am or 8am and then go to work.
He would have liked to be at the apartment to watch the Newcastle 500.
“It goes straight past my balcony a great place to watch the Supercars; I believe you can see turns three, four and five,” Conners says.