7 August 2023

New community centre and library set to change the landscape of Warrawong town centre

| Jen White
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An artist's impression of the new Southern Suburbs Community Centre and Library.

An artist’s impression of the new Southern Suburbs Community Centre and Library. Photos: Wollongong City Council.

The new $30 million Southern Suburbs Community Centre and Library at Warrawong has reached a major milestone, with a call out for companies interested in constructing the project.

Construction of the centre, to be located on the site of the current community centre at King and Greene Streets, is due to start next year. Wollongong City Council has opened an expression of interest process for construction companies keen to take on the building.

Council held community engagement sessions in 2019 to get input from residents on the design of the centre. The community’s key demands included culturally inclusive, safe and welcoming spaces, accessible and functional facilities, landscaping and greenery, and play spaces.

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the facility was a similar concept to the purpose-built, combined community centres and libraries at Dapto, Corrimal and Thirroul.

“While we might be a few years away from the expected opening in 2026, this step is something to recognise and celebrate,’’ he said.

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Council acquired several properties along King St which will be demolished to make way for the new centre.

Council general manager Greg Doyle said planning had been underway for many years and major projects such as these took time to deliver.

“We’ve had to work through a compulsory acquisition process for properties on King Street, and the three-level building has had robust planning around it to manage flooding risk, streetscape works and intersection improvements,’’ Mr Doyle said.

“In fact, reading the scope of works is fascinating as it demonstrates the broad range of skills that will be required for the delivery of this project.

“We’re talking everything from people who can work with steel and concrete, to trades that are skilled in hydraulics, audio visual, flood management and landscaping.’’

Artist's impression of the new library.

Council has called for expressions of interest from companies to build the new library and community centre.

Architects fjcstudio prepared the concept design which includes a town square alongside the new community centre and library.

The town square proposes both passive and active recreation, including a large, grassed area with trees and gardens, and a series of play, recreation and seating spaces. It’s designed to look back toward the community veranda area and complement the entrances to the new building.

The ground floor will include a community hub with a bookable meeting room, community kitchen, community storage areas and amenities.

An atrium in the centre of the building and seating terraces will form the heart of the building, with large and small meeting rooms, activity spaces, quiet study and office areas extending from the atrium space.

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Mr Doyle said as well as the phases of community and stakeholder engagement, there had been a lot of “unseen” work happening behind the scenes, including detailed design of the new building, development application and approvals for the construction and planning around flood risk management and traffic management.

“This is a building that is estimated to cost more than $30 million once it and its associated works, like road intersection works and improvements, have been completed,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“There has been a lot of talk recently about Warrawong’s centre and potential changes to this area and this only increases the need for a hub that provides a range of services to the surrounding community.

“This building will change the landscape of the Warrawong Town Centre. It’s council’s intention for this to be a real community hub, and a space where people can visit, learn, play and socialise.’’

Construction is expected to take about two years.

Watch this video to learn more about council’s plans for the Southern Community Centre and Library, as well as its plans for the Warrawong Town Centre upgrades.

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