Developer revives Regency Tower project

Shelved plans to build Wollongong's tallest building atop the CBD's highest hill look set to rise again, with developers unveiling a $70 million proposal for a 4.5-star hotel and residential complex.

The development - to be known as Regency Tower - would dwarf neighbouring properties, rising 25 storeys above street level on the hill at the corner of Regent and Rawson streets.

It would include an 18-storey, 4.5-star hotel and residential tower with 23 luxury apartments that would sit above seven levels of commercial office space.

The hotel - to be operated by the Mantra Hotel Group - would have 144 rooms and 27 suites, as well as a restaurant, bar, conference centre and rooftop massage spa and infinity pool.

Wollongong planning firm Cardno recently lodged plans for the building with Wollongong City Council on behalf of a group called Supomme Property Development.

South East view of the proposed Regency Tower in Wollongong.

Designed by PRD Architects, the complex is an updated version of a 23-level tower approved by the council in 2009.

It is understood developer David Shalala - who tried to get a similar project off the ground seven years ago - is project manager for the complex, working with a Wollongong-based development consortium and Chinese investors.

According to the development application, the proponents have attended a number of meetings with council staff and Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery about the plans.

Additionally, Cr Bradbery met with the investors during his trip to China.

At 85.7 metres, the planned tower is above the allowable 80-metre limit in Wollongong's Local Environment Plan (LEP), however the developers said the "minor" variation should be allowed.

"This variation is considered acceptable due to the limited impacts on the amenity of surrounding uses, while enhancing the streetscape environment and wider city centre context," the document said.

"The proposed height of the building, whilst greater than the existing in the immediate vicinity, will not be out of context with the desired future character as established in the Wollongong LEP.

"It is further believed that the scale of development proposed will activate redevelopment opportunities in the surrounding area."

The documents also said the Regent Street hill was the ideal spot for a tall building, because it would clearly identify the city's centre and have high visibility along Wollongong's coastline.

An economic assessment contained within the submitted plans said the cost of Regency Tower's construction would be $70 million, but the total economic activity generated by the complex would be more than $232 million.

About 200 jobs would be generated directly during construction, and the final complex would create 229 extra tourism jobs in the Illawarra region, the documents said.

The hotel would attract 72,500 visitors a year, with each spending about $90 a day on top of accommodation costs.

The assessment documents also said seven floors of office space, totalling about 6000 square metres, would be one of the largest areas of office space in the Wollongong CBD, allowing for 436 full and part-time jobs once it was completed.

Because Regency Tower is valued at more than $20 million, plans will be referred to the Joint Regional Planning Panel for assessment.

The development application will be on exhibition through the council's website until January 14.

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