Lismore City Council says the construction of a $13 million Quest apartment complex will be a ‘game changer’, cementing the city’s role as ‘the booming regional hub of the northern rivers’.
The council will negotiate the sale of 2991 square metres of land in the Harold Fredericks Carpark to construction giant FKG Group to build the complex.
The land islocated behind the Lismore Library and bounded by Dawson and Magellan Streets.
The proposal is for a three-storey complex featuring 41 serviced apartments, 53 on-site carparks, 24-hour on-site management, a gymnasium and modern guest facilities.
The council’s executive director sustainable development Brent McAlister said the new apartment block would have a huge economic impact on Lismore.
‘The term ‘game changer’ is often overused, but this development would be a genuine game changer for Lismore,’ Mr McAlister said.
‘Our dominance in professional services and as a sporting hub needs to be supported by A-grade office space and quality serviced apartments to accommodate our visiting registrars, accountants, lawyers, health specialists and sporting families.
‘A significant number of these visitors are being lost to the coast with all their spending. This development, along with the office block being constructed in Molesworth Street, will stop that leakage and support our regional professional services.
‘In this regard I place this proposal in the same category as the North Lismore Plateau – critical to our future growth and regional role.’
Lismore Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Gordon, a local real estate agent, said the apartment complex could free up as many as 40 houses currently used for visitor accommodation, alleviating stress on the rental market.
‘We have hundreds of sportspeople, health professionals and business and construction experts visiting Lismore each year. The CEOs and high-level employees need to be housed. If we can provide a facility to accommodate them, which we haven’t in the past, then we can capture some of the wealth that’s coming to the region and prevent them from spending it elsewhere,” Andrew said.
‘This would have a massive flow-on effect for our businesses, restaurants and retailers downtown when they spend their dollars in the CBD.”
Destination NSW data for the year ending June 2014 showed an increase of 8.9% in the room occupancy rate on the previous 12 months in Lismore and that 27,000 people, or 19% of domestic travellers to Lismore, came on business.
The above information was used by the council to spruik Lismore as an ideal location for serviced apartments to several known operators in the field.
Mr McAlister said the hard work was rewarded when Quest Apartment Hotels and the FKG Group agreed to meet with the council and progress a sale offer.
‘The Lismore Prospectus released by council last year identified the need for private sector investment in serviced apartments for visiting professionals particularly in our health, justice and financial services sectors,’ Brent said.
‘We are currently seeing a construction boom – the $10 million A-grade office building in Molesworth Street, $13 million for the Quest apartments, $5.6 million for the Lismore Quadrangle project and a possible $3 million upgrade of Oakes Oval, all on top of the $280 million redevelopment of Lismore Base Hospital. All of this is helping to cement and secure Lismore as the booming regional hub of the Northern Rivers.”
A charrette was held on-site with developers on 19 May to discuss logistics of the build.
The development will result in the direct loss of around 100 carparks in the Harold Fredericks Carpark and the council has identified replacement parking to compensate for this loss.
There are several options, including additional line-marking of carparks in surrounding streets, reconfiguration of parking in Magellan Street to provide an additional 57 spaces, extension of the art gallery carpark by 11 spaces, and construction of a new carpark with 19 spaces on the corner of Rural Lane and King Street.
The total number of additional car parking spaces that could be provided in the nominated locations would be approximately 100.
Council has also noted that the mature fig trees fronting Dawson Street are significant to the streetscape, and has made a commitment to work closely with the developer to ensure key trees are retained.
The council’s general manager has now been delegated authority to negotiate directly with the FKG Group to progress the sale of land.
The council hopes to have details finalised over the next few months.