A striking 18-storey apartment tower – approved six years ago – could soon alter Wollongong’s skyline.
The towering commercial and office building, which will sit atop the city’s highest hill and be known as Avante, was approved by planning authorities in 2011.
Consent was given for an 18-storey tower, worth $45 million at the time, with three levels of office space, ground floor retail and business premises, and 77 apartments spread across 15 storeys.
Despite this go-ahead, the 3 Rawson Street site – which was once home to a peacock farm and Wollongong’s telephone exchange – has been left as an empty grass lot for many years.
Last year, developers revised the capital investment to $28 million.
But this week, dark cladding was installed around the block, signalling the start of an off-the-plan sales campaign.
Colliers International director Troy Gibson, said the cavernous black box on site would “be the centre of a new standard for marketing in Wollongong”.
“It will be a display suite for the upcoming residential [campaign],” Mr Gibson said.
“They’re unique apartments with high-end finishes. They will all have views and the architecture is sophisticated and forward thinking for Wollongong.”
“There’s also going to be a pool above the commercial space, and from there the views are amazing.”
He said the main drivers for selling the apartments after six years of no action at the site were “migration patterns and the demographic that’s moving here”.
The Avante site is across the road from another yet-to-be-built tower development, the 22-storey Signature building on Regent Street.
Also for sale is the former Red Rooster site – another block at the western side of town that has been left undeveloped for many years.
For the past 15 years, the site has been owned by K & M Prodanoski Pty Ltd, who bought it for $600,000 in 2001, according to property records.
The site has approval for a 5,500 sqaure metre commercial building.
This year, Property Council research showed office vacancy rates dropped from 12.2 per cent to 11.2 per cent.
"This is positive news for Wollongong with solid results across almost all grades of office space a strong indicator of the growing economic might of the Illawarra," the Regional Director Kim Rawson said. "Wollongong is performing strongly on the national stage with a market in the top 15 in Australia and ahead of the Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin CBDs in terms of low vacancy rate.''
The strongest demand was for A-grade office space, with a sharp vacancy drop of almost three percentage points to 5.6 per cent.