OPEN TO OFFERS: The main site opposite the Raymond Terrace police station, and the second smaller site, both highlighted in red. Picture: Supplied.

Unit blocks up to five storeys high could be constructed at thegateway to theRaymond Terrace town centre if Port Stephens council pushes ahead with the sale of alandmark site.

The council has begun an expressions of interest processfor the 11,167 square metre parcel, which is opposite the police station and bounded by William, Adelaide and Sturgeon streets.

It is currently occupied by a large car park, the YMCA andseveral shop fronts, including a Kip McGrath education centre and Bamboo Terrace takeaway.

The leases return revenue of $347,000 a year to council and the land is zoned commercial core.

Howevercouncil’s land acquisition and development manager Sean Fox said the zoning also allowed for medium-density housing to be developed on the site.

“We know there’s generally a shortage of accommodation close to the CBD and we see it as a great opportunity to try and provide some of that accommodation.

Vacant land on the site.

“It might be suited to people who are a bit older and want to downsize and be close to town.We also see it as important to have people in the town centre supporting the existing local businesses,” he said.

However Mr Fox said the EOI process was about “teasing out” a range of options for the site, which has a 15 metre height limit.

“You could have apartments with some ground floor parking and aretail component,” he said.

Mr Fox downplayed concerns about a loss of parking in the CBD, saying the developer would have to make a provision for parking in any plans lodged.

A second smaller parcel–the car park next to the old squash courts on Port Stephens street–has also been listed in the EOI process, for sale either separately or as a joint venture with the main site.Covering just over 2,000 square metres, it is zoned for low density residential.

Expressions of interest for both sites will close on February 24.

Mr Fox admitted the main block was in a‘prominent’ position with the potential tochange the landscape of the town centre.

“We know it is a gateway site and we’re obviously looking to get a good design outcome,” he said.