CONSTRUCTION is expected to start around April on the first building in the University of Newcastle's Honeysuckle campus, but it will not include parking spaces.
The four-storey glass building housing an innovation hub and extra facilities for the School of Creative Industries (SCI) is expected to be completed by mid 2021.
UON Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky and Taylor Martin MLC met on Friday at the site fronting Honeysuckle Drive to announce the construction contract for the $25 million project had been awarded to Hansen Yuncken.
The state government has provided $4.8 million to the Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) Hub from the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund.
"I think it will be an iconic building for the city," Professor Zelinsky said.
"It's a building dedicated to students, academics, researchers and entrepreneurs to work alongside specialists in business and investors.
"It will be a place where our region and city comes together to create, innovate and connect and particularly grow the businesses here in this city."
Hansen Yuncken NSW state manager Nick Luzar said construction would start around April and take about 12 months.
"Almost all of the people working on the job will be from the Hunter," he said.
The building is Stage 1A of a master plan. UON has bought three adjoining parcels of land between Worth Place and Settlement Lane and will build seven new buildings over the next decade.
Professor Zelinsky said UON had only provided "very minimal parking" for NUspace, previously spelt as NeW Space.
"As part of the master plan we will be considering parking, some sort of options around that, but nevertheless it is really a city campus, it's not like our Callaghan campus where we provide extensive parking," he said.
"We've got a great new tram here, we want to make use of it, we have a great shuttle service between the two campuses, so we're encouraging people to use public transport or use a bicycle."
A spokeswoman for UON said it's "committed to playing our part in an integrated, sustainable transport network in Newcastle".
"General parking is not included in the Honeysuckle Stage 1A project, as we already provide a number of transport options for our students and staff," she said.
There are spaces in a nearby carpark for those who must drive, but "our data shows those allocated university car spaces are rarely used to full capacity".
She said with each development application UON "will review our strategy according to the priorities of our students, our staff and our city".
SCI Head of School Professor Paul Egglestone said the building would create "synergies" between the school and the hub and feature shared spaces, to allow members of the public as well as current and former students to receive support to develop their businesses.
"It's crucial for Newcastle to harness those students," he said.
"I think that innovation, developing their own businesses, getting them work ready, enterprising and entrepreneurial skills, either preparing them for jobs or helping them create their own job will be crucial to the future of Newcastle, to trying to encourage some of our best and brightest to stay in the city and build businesses and employ the next generation of students."
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