A record number of cranes will soon dot the Newcastle skyline, reflecting a revived boom in construction activity in the inner-city.
The latest biannual RLB Crane Index lists Newcastle as having 12 cranes, up from six in March and marking a return to the record level of 12 months ago.
One of the cranes, for Doma Group's Little National Hotel at Honeysuckle, has since come down, but a company spokesperson said on Sunday that it would start work in two weeks on its waterfront Huntington apartments and install a third crane at the Store site before Christmas for its planned 12-storey, $54 million office building.
GWH has also started work on the 180-apartment Sky Residences in King Street but has not yet erected a crane for the project.
At least a dozen major building projects totalling more than $600 million are under way in the centre of the city, including Doma's $200 million Store redevelopment in Hunter Street, the Lume apartments in Honeysuckle Drive and the $45 million Little National Hotel.
The Doma spokesperson said work on the bus interchange and five-storey car park at the base of the Store's two 30-storey residential towers would end in April.
The $82 million first stage of Iris' massive East End project next to the Hunter Street mall is out of the ground, and the firm lodged plans last month for the $18 million conversion of the former David Jones building into a 104-room hotel.
RSL LifeCare's $43 million Long Tan Village vertical retirement complex is almost complete in Little King Street, and Thirdi Group has begun the $38 million Stella unit towers in Hannell Street.
Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud's Crystalbrook Collection hotel chain has started minor internal works on the former City Administration Centre "Roundhouse" after Newcastle council staff moved out last month.
A company spokesperson told the Newcastle Herald that major works would start early next year on converting the building into the city's first five-star hotel.
Crystalbrook's Merewether-based CEO, Mark Davie, made a shock exit from the company in July, but the spokesperson said on Friday that the $24 million Kingsley hotel was still on track.
The net gain in cranes on commercial building projects across the nation was 14 and the net loss on residential developments was 19, reflecting the downturn in the major housing markets over the past two years.
Newcastle has bucked that trend, adding three residential cranes since March.
The city lost three cranes in that time, from the Long Tan Village and Verve apartment sites, but gained nine, including at The Store, East End, Neufort Wickham units, Stella and Evolve's affordable housing project next to Newcastle Museum.
The surge in building work is likely to continue for some time. GWH's Darby Plaza offices,
Doma's The Crossing units, Wests Group's redevelopment of the former Newcastle Workers Club, Miller Property's Honeysuckle waterfront apartments, 22-storey residential towers in National Park Street and Stronach's 161-unit redevelopment of the NBN studios site in Mosbri Crescent are all on the drawing board.
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