IT was 2006 when Newcastle's lord mayor at the time, John Tate, unveiled an ambitious plan to demolish the council's King Street car park to make way for an ambitious development proposal described as "returning the city to its European roots" while "moving it into the 21st century".
Back then, development was something of a dirty word in Newcastle, and even though the project - designed by eminent EJE architect and heritage expert Barney Collins - did away with an acknowledged eyesore and gifted the city a grand staircase modelled on Rome's famous Spanish Steps, it eventually faded away, like other Novocastrian dreams before it.
Now, with the once run-down Hunter Street mall on the cusp of a new lease of life with the first stage of Iris Capital's $750-million East End project taking impressive shape, the "Spanish Steps" idea has been dusted off and revisited, with City of Newcastle holding "preliminary talks" with Iris Capital chief executive Sam Arnout about incorporating it into his existing plans.
Without Mr Arnout's views being known, it is difficult to accurately judge the chances of the vision becoming reality a second time around.
Much will depend, as is always the case, on how such a deal would stack up financially for both the council and the developer.
In the Newcastle Herald's opinion, Mr Arnout and his team have gone to extraordinary lengths to assimilate their development into its surroundings.
This attention to detail, and a preparedness go to spend money to preserve some obviously fragile heritage facades, appears to earmark Iris Capital as a firm that would be interested in the challenge.
The "stairway to heaven" has always been a grand idea, and deserves support
But so do car drivers.
Pedestrian-friendly cities are a popular concept, but public transport will never do the entire job of moving people around the city.
We should be wary of removing even more car-parking spaces, if that is to be the outcome here.
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