The state government's remanning Honeysuckle land is "screaming out for an outstanding lifestyle precinct" that will "pull people back to the CBD", a leading developer who has declared they will bid for the sites believes.
Thirdi Group director Luke Berry, whose company has built hundreds of apartments in Wickham in recent years as part of its West End project, says the more than three hectares of land earmarked for development either side of Honeysuckle Drive must house more than just unit or office towers.
"It's screaming out for an outstanding lifestyle precinct, which is a mix of retail spaces, short and long-term accommodation options [and] conference facilities," he told the Newcastle Herald.
"It doesn't need density there. It needs to be a well thought-through precinct that connects the east to the west and allows everyone to enjoy the harbour foreshore.
"Depending on who gets it, their obligation to the city is to build a precinct that will pull people back to the CBD."
Interest in the land has ramped up as the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation advances preparatory works ahead of a divestment process later this year.
It outlined its development objectives for the site last week, envisioning a "magnetic mixed-use destination" that acknowledges "heritage and culture", is "people focused, accessible and connected", and demonstrates design "excellence".
Mr Berry said Thirdi Group would "have a really good run" at acquiring the land.
"We've started to pull together some of Australia's best consultants to put forward a joint pitch," he said.
Developer and former lord mayor Jeff McCloy ruled out making a play for either of the sites, which HCCDC will soon invite proposals for, but said they were both worthy of diverse development.
"A first-class hotel with adequate parking come convention [space] with public art and really interesting world-class architecture is required," he said.
"With the stuff that is being built, I don't see for many years there will be a requirement for more office space."
Iris Capital CEO Sam Arnaout said he had "possibly some interest" and would consider a proposal.
His company last week opened stage one of its East End project, which includes three unique residential towers, retail spaces, a public domain and a yet-to-be-completed hotel.