Residents and retailers will begin to take up occupancy in IRIS Capital’s landmark East End development after stage one of the project was officially opened today.
City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes joined IRIS Capital CEO Sam Arnaout at the East End Village, the endeavour’s community centrepiece, to cut the ribbon to signify the milestone on Thursday 8 April.
The project has been more than four years in the making, following IRIS Capital successfully tendering to redevelop the four-block, master-planned site in 2016.
Stage one, that is boarded by Hunter, Perkins, King and Wolfe streets, was significantly transformed while remaining true to its historic origins.
It delivers three residential towers that will collectively house 280 apartments and the soon-to-be-completed QT Hotel, which will be born out of the redevelopment of the former David Jones Building.
Each of the residential towers – Fabric House that faces Wolfe Street, Washington Housefronting Hunter Street and Perkins & King, the larger of the three buildings that occupies the corner of the two streets after which it is named – has a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments, penthouse suites, as well as outdoor communal areas beautifully landscaped and appointed with barbeque and children’s facilities.
More than 95% of the apartments have been purchased, 80% of which are owner/occupied.
When taking on the project, Mr Arnaout said IRIS Capital’s vision was to create a legacy project that would become the heart of the Newcastle CBD redevelopment and revitalisation and, ultimately, change lives by connecting the community.
“This is about much more than simply creating residential towers,” he explained.
“We could have built that anywhere, but we wanted to create something that had not been seen before in Newcastle.
“Most developers focus on a top-down approach, with the residential elements being the biggest driver of any site.
“We took a completely different approach and wanted to bring this to life from the bottom, up.
“Our vision was to firstly create a community meeting place and village that would be the centrepiece of the development.
“This gave rise to the East End Village, which we believe will in time be the new focus and centre of Newcastle’s CBD, and completely transform the area.”
The East End Village is the development’s community hub that will not only service the area’s new residents, but also attract the many workers and visitors to the CBD.
The retail area is anchored by the recently-opened Metro Woolworths and will soon be home to a mix of tenants including restaurants, cafes and other food and beverage vendors, financial service providers and fashion outlets.
The area will be finished with a public art installation, water feature and light show that is due for completion in June.
“What we have created is a true placemaking, rejuvenation project and it will be these principles that will continue to guide us through the ongoing development of the site,” Mr Arnaout said.
He added that through its extensive consultation with community and other key stakeholders, the project identified a strong desire to remain true to the heritage of the area.
This guided the selection of the architecture teams to ensure the historical fabric was respected and reinterpreted in the modern designs.
“The nostalgic, heritage feel runs deeply through the precinct, from the facades to the other key features of the original buildings that have been maintained and restored,” Mr Arnaout said.
“What you see today is a project for a city’s future that is paying respect to its past.
“It was, at times, difficult and expensive to achieve but something we felt was critical to the area and are incredible proud of.”
With stage one of the development now officially opened and stage two under construction, Mr Arnaout said IRIS Capital’s direct investment in the site to date has been more than $200 million.
This investment figure is set to climb to close to $500 million once all four stages are completed.
However, the economic benefits delivered to the region will be far greater reaching.
“Through the construction phase we had up to 500 workers on site per day,” he said.
“That’s 500 people directly employed by the project, but, indirectly it has been a massive employment generator for the region through the engagement of subcontractors, suppliers, transport and delivery companies.
“Post construction, stage one alone, including Woolworths, the hotel and retail outlets, will create more than 200 full-time equivalent jobs.
“That number will increase dramatically as stages two, three and four come online.
“Ultimately, the major beneficiary of this project will be the City of Newcastle and its people.”
Mr Arnaout thanked council, headed by Cr Nelmes, for the role they played, proactively ensuring the delivery of the site.
“When delivering a project of this size and magnitude that involves many layers of government approval, with City of Newcastle being the major stakeholder, it was important to have a strong collaboration between all parties,” he said.
“We established workshops with council to ensure milestones were set and met and, in turn, the councillors and council officers were very proactive in ensuring that this project went to plan.
“This collaboration has encouraged us to continue our investment in the City.
“The support is critically important to ensure the processes were worked through as efficiently as possible.
“We are very happy with this relationship and look forward to continuing our work with the City of Newcastle.”
The next significant milestone for the site be the opening of the QT Hotel, which is expected about April 2022, while stage two is due for completion by the end of 2022.