The former Star HotelNEWCASTLE’S billion-dollar building boom is showing new signs of life, but developers and governments continue to stall on more than a dozen CBD projects that would revitalise some of the city’s most embarrassing sites.
Nanjing Night Net

A Newcastle Herald investigation has found at least 16 key CBD sites sitting idle despite being approved or earmarked for redevelopment.

The owners of three of those sites have flagged or lodged new development plans in recent months.

The latest application tabled with Newcastle City Council aims to transform the former Tattersalls Club and Surf City nightclub site on Watt Street into a $24.6 million nine-storey unit complex.

A council decision on plans for a 265-unit development at the former Jolly Roger Hotel and Hunter Village Arcade site is expected next month.

Developer Keith Stronach revealed last week he would invest up to $100 million to redevelop the remaining sections of the former Royal Newcastle Hospital site.

But while pockets of the city are moving forward, elsewhere plans have been left on the shelf.

They include the Legacy House site in Bolton Street, which developer Jeff McCloy has listed for sale.

The Legacy House site has approval for apartments, commercial space and car parking.

Mr McCloy said yesterday he was still looking at options for the site, but said conditions in the city were not conducive to investment.

‘‘I’m not sure what to do with [the Legacy House site] yet,’’ Mr McCloy said.

‘‘We’re waiting on some other progress [in the city] with GPT and the rail line.

‘‘If you talk to commercial builders there’s not much work in the town.’’

Other shelved developments include the now-derelict Star Hotel, which has approval for 12 storeys but has been listed for sale, on and off, since 2006.

Receivers for businessman Con Constantine have also put on the market a massive ‘‘gateway development’’ site in Newcastle West, including the former S&W Miller warehouse and Newcastle Region Museum.

The NSW Government has not announced any plans for the Empire Hotel site, a year after the old building was demolished, and a decision on the former Post Office building is eagerly awaited.

One possible reason for the stalled progress of many projects is uncertainty surrounding mine subsidence that would prevent large-scale development on some city sites.

Long-awaited subsidence maps showing potential development sites are expected to be released in the coming months.

Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Kristen Keegan said people would not invest in uncertain conditions. ‘‘In terms of the Newcastle CBD it’s all about creating the right investment climate,’’ Ms Keegan said.

She said barriers to investment included concerns about mine subsidence, planning regulations and the rail line.

Developer Chris Chapman, who is behind the Jolly Roger plans and the recently completed Grand Central Apartments, told the Newcastle Herald last month that residential plans were viable because there was growing demand in the CBD for affordable unit accommodation.

The development application for the Tattersalls Club site shows plans for 56 units and ground floor commercial space.

The site has an approved development application, but owner Chrysalis Holdings has asked for an additional floor.

‘‘The proposed development will respond sympathetically to the desired future city fabric and rather than fragmenting Newcastle’s character, it will provide a benchmark for future redevelopment in this part of Watt Street,’’ the application said.