Iris Capital’s concept plan for the $700 million Hunter Street mall revamp has won planning approval, revealing the developer’s broader vision for the inner-city precinct.
The Newcastle Herald reported in December that work is due to start early this year on stage one of the project, 228 apartments near the former David Jones building, after the units largely sold off the plan then won development consent from the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
The panel has now given concept approval for all four stages of the “EastEnd” project, which will transform the southern side of the mall into 500 units, ground-floor shops and landscaped laneways.
Artists’ renders of the plans show a landscaped Morgan Street extending into steps leading up to King Street near Christ Church Cathedral, and a laneway winding east-west from Perkins to Newcomen streets.
It is understood the former Lyrique Theatre building, with its unusual portico, could be incorporated into the Wolfe Street entrance to the laneway.
JRPP member and Newcastle Greens councillor John Mackenzie said Iris Capital’s plans for stage one augured well for the rest of the redevelopment.
“Stage one has demonstrated that the developers have a commitment to both heritage considerations and architectural excellence, and the result strongly contributes to the preservation of Newcastle’s urban character,” he said.
“I’d be hoping to see future stages of this project maintain this approach and work in with the existing cityscape to enhance the vitality of the East End precinct.”
Iris Capital chief Sam Arnaout was in New York and unavailable for comment, but Colliers International’s Dane Crawford said on Monday that “no stone has been left unturned” to achieve the best design for the EastEnd development.
Iris’s plans do not include the council’s dilapidated King Street car park opposite the cathedral grounds, nor the Telstra exchange building on the corner of King and Wolfe streets.
Concept drawings show a bold, grey residential building over eight floors in front of the car park and an eight-storey unit tower with concrete balconies flanking a new square on the site of the existing Market Square shopping complex.
Another eight-storey apartment block at the top of Newcomen Street stands in front of the exclusive Newcastle Club, which expressed concerns last year that the tower could block its view of the harbour.
The Herald reported in November that someone had paid $6 million for the entire top floor of the Washington House unit tower in EastEnd’s stage one, smashing the Newcastle apartment price record by $1.5 million.