The notorious strip between Crown Street Mall and Wollongong Railway Station will be put under the microscope in a University of Sydney study addressing economic and social problems, which have long marred the area.
Called Future Cities, the competitive program will help six NSW councils revitalise parts of their cities by working with urban design experts and researchers.
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said Wollongong City Council decided to apply and focus on the square bordered by Market, Denison, Ellen and Keira streets to complement hospital upgrades and revitalisation work happening elsewhere in the city.
"The study will hopefully connect these areas of the city, and create revitalisation of an area that, at the present time, is not going anywhere," he said.
He hoped the study would help address the much criticised "anti-social behaviour" thought to stem from the cluster of run-down shops, housing shelters and methadone clinics in the area.
"I have heard the people of Wollongong, especially retailers, who have expressed concerns about anti-social behaviour and I'm hoping I will get some insight into how to manage those negatives," he said.
The study will focus on changing planning controls to encourage development and growth in the area, which Cr Bradbery said could result in innovative housing developments.
"Just off the top of my head, I could see that we go for studio-type accommodation to encourage people like university students to move in and increase the density, which facilitates the nightlife," he said.
"Or, for example, do we make it easier for a development to occur by lessening the need to park in a space that already has a priority for public transport?
"We want to look at what our future city is going to look like, because that quarter-acre block out in the 'burbs is fading fast."
The program will run from June to November, and involves a three-day mayors forum in Sydney and a seven-day tour of New York.
This is forecast to cost between $16,890 and $22,890, which Cr Bradbery said was "a bargain" given the benefits it would bring to the city..