Mystery surrounds the future of a section of Newcastle inner-city rail corridor land six months after the NSW government closed tenders for the redevelopment site.
Tenders closed on April 6 for a narrow strip of corridor land marketed as Merewether Street East and an adjoining block on Hunter Street called Darby Plaza.
The Hunter Development Corporation tender process followed Newcastle City Council’s rezoning of the former heavy rail corridor in December to allow for a mix of development and public space.
That rezoning allows for apartments, shops, offices and public recreation on the corridor between Merewether and Brown streets.
A spokesperson for the government’s Revitalising Newcastle program told the Newcastle Herald on May 11 that it was close to announcing the winning tender.
“The EOI process for both sites has now closed and we look forward to announcing the successful tenderer or tenderers in the near future,” the spokesperson said.
“These sites have great potential and we anticipate a quality outcome that includes public domain, improved pedestrian linkages and an activated Hunter Street.”
But, five months later, it is unclear who has bought the land and what it will be used for.
In response to inquiries this week, Revitalising Newcastle confirmed the successful tenderer had not been announced and remained “commercial in confidence”. It did not say when an announcement would be made.
The adjoining sites could be sold together or separately, but whoever secures the Hunter Street site will be required to spend between $360,000 and $440,000 on a proposed plaza under the terms of HDC’s planning agreement with the council and UrbanGrowth.
A developer could buy both, leave the narrow corridor largely undeveloped and transfer the floor-space ratio for that land to the Darby Plaza site.
The Herald reported on May 19 that Sydney hotel mogul Jerry Schwartz had suggested building a ground-level car park on the rail corridor as part of a joint venture with Doma Group.
Doma has won five HDC tenders to buy redevelopment sites at Honeysuckle, Merewether Street and the Store building in Hunter Street.
But the Herald has been told the Canberra company has not won the Darby Plaza or rail corridor tenders.
The company is understood to be awaiting an outcome for the corridor land before proceeding with its residential development, The Crossing, which sits beside the old rail line in Merewether Street.
Colliers International advertised the Darby Plaza site as having the “potential to deliver a landmark mixed-use development”. It has a height limit of 24 metres, or eight floors, and a floor-space ratio of 4:1, meaning the combined floor area of all levels of any development can be four times the size of the land it sits on.
The corridor parcel of land has a height limit of 30 metres and a floor-space ratio of 2.5:1.