A new apartment complex in the heart of Wollongong thought to be the first of its kind in the country marked an important milestone ahead of its opening next year.
The Northsea apartments on Crown Street, a partnership between Traders in Purple, NSW Land and Housing Corporation and the Housing Trust, contain a mix of private ownership and affordable and social housing.
Developers, business leaders, community organisations and government representatives gathered on Monday (18 December) to celebrate the completion of the newly built structure with a ‘topping out ceremony’, where a tree was placed onto the roof of the building.
The 13-storey building overlooking the Illawarra coastline will comprise 38 premium two and three-bedroom private apartments, 18 apartments for Land and Housing Corporation and nine for the Housing Trust for affordable housing.
“In terms of just raw numbers it is a drop in the ocean against demand, but for the people who are going to live here, it is intergenerational change, not just for them but for their children, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren,” Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair said.
It achieved a 100 per cent sell-out earlier this month.
Ms Adair said the success of this project is mainly due to the developer taking the initiative to provide the inclusion more than a year before the NSW Government introduced its new policy incentivising builders to add affordable housing by increasing height and density limits.
“The developer by choice wanted this to be an inclusive, diverse, wonderful community,” she said.
Traders in Purple has been working with community organisations and the government to help provide affordable and social housing for more than a decade, including Correa Gardens at Corrimal.
The company’s director Charles Daoud said Northsea was something that particularly excited them.
“I fundamentally believe that every human should have access to a decent and safe place to live,” Mr Daoud said.
“I think, in addition to food, housing, money, clothes, the most important thing you can give someone is dignity. Once you give someone dignity, you always get the best out of that person.
“If we have the ability and resources and talent within the organisation to be part of the solution then it would be shame on us if we didn’t take part in something like this.”
But it isn’t always easy.
“It doesn’t offer the returns that the private developments do. It’s more resource intensive because you’ve got multiple stakeholders and multiple partners that have to be kept across the entire project, and you’ve got a lot more people watching what you do,” Mr Daoud said.
“But that’s okay, it’s how you get good outcomes.”
An important hurdle the team had to overcome was ensuring that the private dwellings were still desirable.
“We communicated effectively to our buyers, we told them what to expect, we humanised the tenants and we’re in a great location, which of course helps,” Mr Daoud said.
Eliminating that stigma continues to be an ongoing challenge for the government and local organisations dedicated to creating housing opportunities but Northsea has proven that it can be done, and providers are hoping more developers will see the benefits.
“In terms of the private market there’s a nervousness and even some people who live near a social housing development, there’s a fear that comes with that and we see that when we put our projects on public exhibition and get feedback from people about their property value,” Land and Housing Corporation Director of Partnerships and Communication Adam Thompson said.
“This project flies in the face of all of that and that’s what we’re really proud of – our ability to break that mold comes down to that partnership that we’ve had, both government, local council, Housing Trust and the developer in Traders in Purple.”
“When we’re all swimming in the same direction, I think the outcomes are just par for the course.”
The project is set to be completed in mid-2024.
For more information, visit the Northsea wesbite.