An east ward councillor is calling on Port Stephens Council to "cough up some of its own money" as part of a revitalisation of the derelict Donald Street East carpark precinct for Nelson Bay.
Cr John Nell said the abandoned carpark should be demolished and the surface sealed to rid the business district of the "terrible eyesore", while creating up to 30 extra and much-needed car parking spaces.
"I believe it is imperative that the council, as owner of the land, commit funds even if it means selling off some council assets to demonstrate our level of commitment and investment in the town centre," he said.
"The site has become an eyesore and is detracting visitations. I understand this council's ability to raise funds from car parking is limited, but this council needs to demonstrate that we haven't forgotten about the business community."
Cr Nell said that he would be lodging a notice of motion with the council to have the old carpark demolished and sealed for carparking by the end of March 2020.
"I will also be requesting that council seek government grants and partnerships to replace the 204 carparking spaces in the old carpark with a minimum of 300 council-owned public carparking spaces in the new building; and to develop the commercial and residential component of the site," he said.
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He has also called for a report on the feasibility of various development and funding options to be reported back to the council by August 2019.
"Once the carpark has been completed, then we [council] can begin canvassing government grants and the search for private investors willing to form a partnership. This won't be easy and won't happen in a hurry but no funding options should be excluded."
Cr Nell said that he would happily support the Tomaree Business Chamber's proposal for an eight-storey high building with a mix of commercial, residential, higher education and car parking on the one-acre block of prime real estate.
"The vision for providing more jobs and more visitors will hopeful lead in the future to some revenue raising options for the council," he said.
"Personally, I don't mind having a TAFE as part of the development, but I am not sure if the council is ready. There is a need for the Bay to attract younger people to the town and while there are many shop vacancies, there are very few large retail vacancies, which this site could provide."
Chamber spokesperson Peter Clough suggested that the council needed to look at addressing the carpark from a different perspective and employ someone to assess the potential for an income earning asset.
"Even a staged development could be adopted," he said.