A three-tower residential complex could soon replace some of the many car yards and commercial buildings lining Flinders Street in Wollongong.
Developer Michael Corban has revealed plans to transform more than 6000 square metres of prime CBD land fronting Gipps and Flinders streets into a $40.5 million residential and commercial precinct.
Engineering firm Cardno submitted the application to Wollongong City Council on behalf of Mr Corban.
If approved, the site - to be known as Flinders Square - will house 160 apartments and five ground-floor shop fronts, as well as a street-level parking area and basement car park.
These will be spread across three separate towers of eight and nine storeys.
Mr Corban said the complex would help improve the "ugly" northern entranceway of the Wollongong CBD, while providing inexpensive and in-demand housing.
"Flinders Street is just a mish-mash of horrible old buildings and there's very few impressive buildings in the street," he said.
"What we need is coffee shops and restaurants and a whole stream of things that are of interest to people and that will make it more attractive as you drive into the city."
The plans replace Mr Corban's earlier $21 million development for the site, approved by the council in 2009, which had more commercial and office space than the Flinders Square proposal.
The developer said he had decided to submit a modified proposal because there was more demand for housing than office space.
The Flinders Square proposal follows similar plans to turn the former Oxford Tavern site into a 14-storey, two-tower complex of apartments, shops and businesses.
It also comes as the council continues planning for the Bass and Flinders Gateway complex at the nearby former Quattro site.
Economic development manager Mark Grimson said the influx of large-scale residential and commercial developments in the CBD was a sign of positive momentum in Wollongong. He said there had been a 5 per cent increase in the number of developments approved between May and August this year compared with the same period last year.
"It's fair to say that there is significant renewed interest in the Wollongong CBD at the moment," he said.
"Already we've got more than half a billion dollars worth of construction under way or that has been completed in the past 12 months.
"Subsequently we're also seeing renewed interest in a number of key sites ... and there is no question that having more people living and working in our CBD is a good thing in terms of the overall activation of the city centre."
Mr Grimson attributed this to "catalyst projects" like GPT's $200 million West Keira development, as well as the council's own investment in the Wollongong city centre, and recovering confidence after the global financial crisis.
Mr Corban owns a number of sites along the Flinders Street strip, and gained approval last year to develop a two-storey commercial complex with more than 4000 square metres of shop space at the eastern side of North Wollongong railway station.
Woolworths' liquor chain Dan Murphy's will be the main ground-floor tenant, opening one door down from Coles' First Choice Liquor.
He also owns a car dealership in Flinders Street, but said he had no plans to submit further development plans.