THE contentious Shellharbour City Hub has progressed to the next stage, following the appointment of an architect.
At last Tuesday night's meeting, Shellharbour councillors voted to enter into a contract with Designinc Ltd for the tender sum of $1,188,025, excluding GST.
Mayor Marianne Saliba used her casting vote to pass the motion, as fellow councillor John Murray was absent.
The proposed hub will include an auditorium, meeting rooms, library, museum, offices, open space and public art.
The $57 million hub has been met with fierce opposition from some, including councillors Kellie Marsh and Peter Moran.
At last week's meeting, Cr Marsh again blasted the hub, labelling it the "city dud project".
"We keep talking about this being the heart of the city . . . I don't see how a concrete structure on a goat track will bring any more heart to the city," Cr Marsh said.
The council received 17 expressions of interest from firms, with five invited to tender.
It was expected the tender submissions would range between $1 million and $1.5 million.
The appointed architect will be responsible for the design of the building and interior design, as well as the design of the open space and public domains.
The architectural consultant's involvement will continue through to the project's completion in December 2016.
In March, the hub project narrowly progressed by 4-3 to appoint Savills as project managers.
"Milestone No. 4", awarding the construction contract in August 2014, has been identified as integral to the hub's future.
"Milestone 4 . . . is the decision point after which it will be extremely difficult and expensive for council to withdraw from the project," council officers said.