ARCHITECTS, town planners and BASE jumpers around the world are excited about the latest proposal to reinvigorate Newcastle city centre.
Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York had the Twin Towers, and now it seems Newcastle will have the Tri-Towers if GPT and UrbanGrowth NSW get their audacious plan off the ground.
Three 65-metre high skyscrapers. All part of a new vision to turn Newcastle CBD into a skyline destination for investors.
Liberal Newcastle councillor Brad Luke summed up the go-ahead attitude when he said: "If a development is not what people want to live in, or shop in, or visit, then people won't be there to build it."
And certainly, before this plan was unveiled, the question on everyone's lips waiting for a bus down at the Crown and Anchor was not "Where's the bloody 100?" but rather, "When are we going to get our skyscrapers?"
Not surprisingly, details are sketchy as the bold initiative is submitted to the relevant authorities before being put to the public for feedback.
Ideally, GPT doesn't want any. And who can blame them given the rigmarole they had last time they tried to build something in town.
Observers are saying the plan is audacious in that the current allowable height for a building in the area is a mere 24 metres. These towers will be three times that legal limit. Enough to lose your licence if you were driving. But not drafting.
And with a bunch of Sydney string-pullers at the wheel, the vision is nothing if not intoxicating. Mainly to quantity surveyors.
Observers are saying the plan is audacious, too, in that it will be built on the old, some say iconic, DJs building site. Or was that "ironic" given we're led to believe Newcastle is so undermined that building anything but an action group protest march is nigh on impossible.
At least they're not planning to build on a truly culturally important site - like the Lynch's Prawn Hut.
Before you did that you'd flatten something less architecturally significant, they say, like the post office.
Or indeed the Cathedral.
Which will be obscured if the plan goes to plan.
Stockton residents are up in arms about that, although there are rumours that progress societies on The Hill see obscuring views of Stockton as, finally, genuine progress.
And given the history of seamless development in this city, why wouldn't you be optimistic. The Tourle Street Bridge duplication, the Shortland to Sandgate bypass-minus-overpass, and the roundabout at John Hunter Hospital that just kind of disappeared prove that if you have patience and can accept that this is all you're going to get from Macquarie Street, good enough things can happen.
Lord mayor Jeff McCloy has posed the critical question - does Newcastle want to remain a cow paddock, like Paris, or take its rightful place alongside the great cities of the world like Abu Dhabi, Dubrovnik, Terrigal?
Civic commentator Zane Alcorn immediately concurred: "Anyone who has ever been to Paris will tell you what an absolute rubbish excuse for a city it is. If they knew anything about anything they would leap at the first opportunity to let developers build 20-storey high towers there. But that's the Parisiennes for you. They don't know nothing about nothing."
As their Arc-De-So-Called-Triomphe proves. But let not young nation feelings of insecurity hold us back. tower
Another Newcastle icon, barber Tony Ruffo, pointed out to me during a recent back and sides that Australia, as a nation, is older than modern Italy and Germany (both unified by 1871, give or take a HSC exam or two). And I can't help thinking that Garibaldi and Bismarck would get behind a momentous city building plan like this.
Indeed Sun King Louis XIV would be seething with jealousy. And we know why, having hosted a French exchange student some years ago. Naturally we took her to Honeysuckle, which dwarfs Versailles in terms of grandeur, and Newcastle Museum, just to rub it in her face what a dud the Louvre is. And, of course, "The Penis", a genuine eyeful tower.
Some people approve of the plan but would prefer if someone else paid for it.
An understandable point of view shared by GPT and UrbanGrowth, who lumped it on the taxpayers of NSW before they could protest.
Those not against high-rise point out that cities like Edinburgh don't allow structures that obscure its castle. And that New York is staggered to allow sunlight in downtown, and low-flying commercial airliners.
Many citizens would prefer the towers to go up further west, near Wickham, where it had been originally proposed. But why stop there? Why not out at Booral where the 10-storey "Stairway" residence proudly stands, testament to private funding, grand design and commanding views over real cow paddocks.
Civic spokespeople are energised by the thought of "cranes in the sky".
And as Luke adds, perhaps prophetically: "We have to supply what people want - you don't build rugby fields if everyone wants to play soccer, otherwise you end up with white elephants."