The demolition of a 1930s harbourside unit block to make way for a new high-rise apartment complex could prompt an archaeological dig and reveal state-significant information about the early occupation of Wollongong.
Developers have submitted plans to Wollongong City Council to knock down Marlene Court, a circa 1938 block at the corner of Harbour and Smith Street.
Under their $6 million proposal, an "an exclusive boutique complex" would rise in its place, with eight storeys containing six apartments including a three-level penthouse.
The proposal would also allow for the excavation of a two-level basement, containing space of 13 cars.
Documents lodged with the council by Harbour Smith Management Pty Ltd have highlighted the potential heritage significance of the precinct, which was where the commercial and residential centre Wollongong was first established by Europeans settlers from 1815 to 1834.
Archaeological firm Biosis, commissioned by the developers, said the site has the potential to contain remains associated with Charles Throsby's stockman's hut and associated stockyard.
It could also contain remains of Charles Throsby Smith's premises, Biosis' assessment said, and "isolated and unmapped" of the Wollongong's early commercial centre Market Square.
"Archaeological sites with the potential to reveal information pertaining to the early settlement and development of Wollongong are a rare and diminishing resource which has been comparatively understudied in relation to other regional centres in NSW," the Biosis assessment said.
If found, these remains would represent state significance, and would "represent a rare and endangered resource with the potential to answer research questions relating to the 1815 to 1835 occupation of Wollongong by early settlers".
The consultants note that the excavation of a two-level basement would "remove all archaeological material from the site, should it be present" and have recommended there be close monitoring during any bulk earthworks".
If these significant remains are found under Marlene Court during excavation, work on the site would need to cease and would need approval from the NSW Heritage Council to continue, the consultants said.
Also of significance at the development site is a heritage-listed monument which marks the location of Charles Throsby's stockman's hut.
Installed around 1957, it will be retained as part of the development and "embellished" through landscaping improvements, the plans say.
In regards to the new building, the developers say it will be compatible with other surrounding uses and is "considered to be in the public interest as it provides additional housing to meet the needs of the community".
"We look forward to council's favourable determination of the DA," they said.
The proposal is on exhibition and open for public comment until October 16.