Supported by the Hunter Development Corporation and approved by Newcastle City Council, the diocese's development is expected to include up to 64 affordable housing units, 11 accessible units for people with a disability and carers, with the balance being rented to the market to ensure a mix of tenants to encourage a cohesive community within the building in the heart of Newcastle's CBD.
Bishop Bill Wright says this development reflects the diocese's commitment to the local community:
"At every level the church tries to help meet the needs of the community around it, whether that's visiting the sick or shut-ins in a local parish or something on a bigger scale like our CatholicCare social services, schools, early education, healthcare and so on. And we know that one of the great needs of our time is for people to be able to find stable, affordable accommodation."
"On this re-developed Empire site we will be able to provide a healthy community mix of housing that comprises, alongside general rental properties, subsidised 'affordable housing' units and purpose-built units for people with disabilities. It will make secure accommodation in Newcastle that bit easier to find, not least for people who might now be finding that difficult for a range of reasons," Bishop Wright said.
Overseeing the project for the diocese, Vice Chancellor Administration, Sean Scanlon says the development is a key site in the revitalisation of inner city Newcastle:
"We are pleased to receive this approval, which sees us now able to move forward and commence building works as soon as possible. We know there is a need for quality affordable housing in the Newcastle CBD, and we're working to make this development available as quickly as possible for the people of Newcastle."
"We're keen to move the site from its current vacant state to a vibrant feature of the inner city landscape once more, and look forward to welcoming tenants from early 2019," Mr Scanlon said.