News of a proposal to build an 11-storey office block at the lower end of Crown Street Mall has sparked an outcry from hundreds of Wollongong’s live music fans.
If approved, the $45 million tower would means demolition for the 1930s corner block that houses Rad Bar, prompting calls to “save” the music venue.
When the office block plans were revealed by the Mercury on Monday, Rad Bar owner, Daniel Radburn, took to the venue’s Facebook page to decry “another blow for Wollongong culture”.
“Give em hell !! #saveradbar,” he wrote.
Dozens of followers took up the call, labelling the development “devastating” and suggesting petitions to stop it from going ahead.
“Yay! Let's knock down another iconic Wollongong venue to build a high-rise,” one commentator, Tania Taylor, wrote.
“I understand progress but seriously this is getting out of hand.”
Mr Radburn told the Mercury he had been “prepared for the worst” for his music venue for a while, but had been dismayed to hear of demolition plans.
“I’m very sentimental about the place, because I’ve seen lots of kids come through with aspirations to start a band, and then seeing their bands progress to have a tour around Australia,” he said.
“I think there needs to be more consideration for the heritage and life that is in those older buildings, and some sort of plan for culture.
“You just can’t keep building these new buildings that make Wollongong look like a city and expect it to flourish.”
He said he doubted any new complex would make space for a “weird little place” like Rad.
“They would definitely not have us on board, we just make too much noise – in a good way,” he said.
Some readers suggested Wollongong council should require the developers to have a provision for live music in the new high-rise.
“If this goes ahead then I hope there'll be some kind of provision or condition made for live music in Wollongong,” Regan Kerr said.
“Yours and Owls, more recently Rad Bar, has contributed so much to Wollongong's economy and culture, and it would be a shame to see Wollongong lose an iconic venue without any kind of way forward.”
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A number of other commentators raised heritage concerns about the redevelopment of the building, which is 80 years old but not heritage listed, while others criticised the angular design.
“Looks like an expensive game of Jenga,” reader Daniel Ciarrocca said.
But numerous others – including outgoing Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich – wrote to voice their support.
“If Wollongong wants to be viewed as a metropolitan city, then it needs to look like one,” he said.
The assessment and approval of the proposal is likely to take many months.
Plans are open for public comment until June 15