A much-loved old building in Crown Street Mall will be knocked down and then rebuilt to make way for a multi-storey office block.
In revised plans lodged with Wollongong City Council after their original proposal failed, developers have agreed to save the facade of the corner block known as Langs Corner.
However, they say it will be too costly and restrictive to keep the building standing during construction of the 11-storey tower.
Instead, architect Paul Davies has proposed to dismantle the building and reconstruct it around the modern complex.
This would be done, he said in documents with the council, under the watchful eye of a heritage architect who will prepare drawings and documentation to help builders put the facade back together in the original style.
“The heritage architect is to be engaged to oversee the reconstruction of the façade and is to be given authority to ensure the work is undertaken to match the original detail,” Mr Davies said.
The office tower plan emerged early last year, with developers proposing the full demolition of the red-brick corner block built in 1933 and named after former mayor WIlliam Lang.
More than 500 residents made submissions opposing this plan amid concerns about heritage – although the building is not heritage listed – and the loss of music venue Rad Bar, one of Langs Corner’s tenants.
Heeding submissions, and concerns about several variations to the council’s development rules, the council indicated it would knock back the original plans.
“The proposed development will have unacceptable impacts in terms of urban design, heritage values, traffic and parking,” the council said.
“It is council’s view that Lang’s Building is significant in Wollongong, and warrants some level of preservation.
“A more slender tower above the existing façade, with greater setbacks from Crown and Kembla Streets would reduce the visual bulk of the building and the impact on the surrounding heritage items.”
In new documents, ADM Architects said keeping the facade would result in several exceptions to the council’s rules. For instance, it will be closer than recommended to neighbouring buildings and the height of the building’s street front levels will not be compliant.
The base of the building, from which the upper levels will rise, has been lowered in the new design to accommodate the heritage facade, which would “provide a better visual outcome” and “reduces the bulk and sense of enclosure from the public domain”.
Developers argue the new plans should be approved as they will provide extra A-grade office space in the CBD.
“The additional employment generated by the proposal will benefit nearby businesses and has the potential to create economic multipliers within the CBD,” they said. “Cultural values will be enhanced through the retention of eight panels of the Lang's Corner façade.”
The revised plans are open for public comment until May 16.