Newcastle council has asked the developer to add an extra floor to its new West End home for a roof-top terrace and more office space.
The council announced last week that more than 400 staff would move from the civic precinct to the Gateway office building under construction in Stewart Avenue.
Chief executive officer Jeremy Bath told the Newcastle Herald that he had asked developer Spartohori Pty Ltd to submit a development application for a new sixth level on the building. The DA, which was submitted this month, estimates the cost of the extra floor at $3.7 million.
The council will rent the entire southern tower of the new building plus the second floor of the northern tower for its infrastructure division.
“I’ve signed a lease for the building in its current state, but I requested the developer to lodge a DA for an additional floor,” Mr Bath said.
“The top floor of the southern tower, a sixth floor, would be an outdoor roof-top terrace, which would be for staff and community alike and would allow us to use the space both for collaboration during the day and for events at night time.
“And, if that was the case, we would sub-lease one of the floors we are taking, and we already have a number of interested parties who are willing to take that sub-lease, but, of course, that’s all subject to a DA being approved.”
The building would include space for a council chamber if councillors decided, after community consultation, to stop meeting at City Hall.
“The outstanding question we had when we announced the relocation was the future use of the chamber and whether 1.5 kilometres is a distance that is realistically too far for people to travel between. Certainly, logistically, it would present some challenges,” Mr Bath said.
“Of course, there are ways of overcoming that for staff, the provision of e-bikes and the like, but, practically speaking, is it a distance that’s too far?
“I’ve got a view, but I don’t want to be seen to be influencing the community consultation that will take place, as well as the councillors.”
The council will discuss the fit-out of the new office with staff in February and engage a consultant to design it. Between 425 and 450 employees are expected to make the move in mid-2019.
Mr Bath said he had been “shocked” by the conditions staff were working in when he took up the job in May and had resolved quickly to find new accommodation.
The council first met in a former courthouse building, now the site of Newcastle Post Office, in 1859, moved to the Council Chambers in Watt Street in 1884 then to the present City Hall in 1929.