JERRY SCHWARTZProperty magnate and cosmetic surgeon Jerry Schwartz has plunged $9.5million on a strategic site that will reignite Newcastle’s rail debate.
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The owner of Newcastle Crowne Plaza has revealed ambitious plans to develop a conference centre, hotel and possibly a brewery on more than a hectare of harbourside land.

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Dr Schwartz, pictured, said an underground train station at Civic – proposed as a joint venture with the NSW Government and Newcastle City Council – would realise the property’s full potential and settle the inner-city rail line deadlock.

Opposite the Crowne Plaza, the newly bought site is bounded by Wharf Road, Merewether Street and Argyle Street and jumps Centenary Road to include land up to the rail line.

‘‘Maybe the train line can finish at Civic and they can be looking at building a section of line and Civic station underground,’’ he said.

‘‘I haven’t spoken to anyone yet in the government or at council but it’s always been in my mind, if I bought the property why not make suggestions about what could be done with it because it’s right on the rail line.’’

Dr Schwartz, having exchanged contracts two weeks ago, is buying the land from ROI Properties.

The area includes heritage-listed Argyle House, which houses Fanny’s nightclub, an antique gallery, warehouse, bottle shop and car parks.

In 2008, ROI had planned a $56million development on the site including residential apartment buildings, retail and commercial space.

It approached Dr Schwartz recently about a sale after he indicated ‘‘years ago’’ that ‘‘if ever they wanted to sell the site they should come to me’’.

‘‘The main reason I want the site is for the parking. My plans will be to build car parking, retail, a conference centre and another 3 star hotel above this, so that it will have views across the top of Crowne Plaza Newcastle.

‘‘The reason I jumped at this property is because I clearly see the potential in that area. I really believe in the future of that part of Newcastle.

‘‘In 10 years’ time when my son is 11 I want to show him what we’ve done so that he’ll say ‘Dad, that was a good idea’.’’

The site is suitable to run a brewery. In 2006 Dr Schwartz made an unsuccessful bid to redevelop the troubled South Sydney Leagues Club.

The bid included running a micro-brewery. His Sydney-based Schwartz Beer supplies craft beer to his Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra hotels.

‘‘I’m always on the lookout for where to build another brewery,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s what I would put in the warehouse on the site and call it Newcastle Brewery. Novocastrians like the idea of having their own beer so I think it would work.’’