23 November 2023

Airport property group plans mixed-use precinct on courts car park in city

| Ian Bushnell
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Aerial vow of Canberra city showing land sale

An aerial view of the city showing the land sold to Capital Development Group. Photo: ACT Government.

Canberra Airport’s property arm will put up to four buildings on the Law Courts car park on the corner of London Circuit and Northbourne Avenue after buying the 11,381 square metre site from the ACT Government for $53 million.

Capital Property Group had tendered for the site as part of a government land release to develop leased office accommodation for the Commonwealth Government, including the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Department of Education and the Australian Electoral Commission.

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But development plans from Walker Corporation fell through when they could not meet planning requirements from the National Capital Authority and the arrangement with the Commonwealth was terminated.

The government then looked to the other shortlisted tenderers, giving the Snow family’s Capital Property Group the nod.

The company will continue to put its stamp on the city centre with this new mixed-use development in the mould of its award-winning Constitution Place precinct.

Last month, it also bought a vacant block of land next to Constitution Place on Vernon Circle for $17.75 million where a $150 million six-level office building is planned.

Canberra Airport Head of Property Richard Snow told Region that the Northbourne Avenue land now came without a committed tenant, which would give the company a freer hand to “do whatever we think is the best outcome for this site and the city”.

“It’s about enlivening the city and revitalising it, rather than just having an on-grade car park,” he said.

Mr Snow said the vision was for an integrated precinct of two 11-12 storey buildings – one a landmark structure on the gateway corner of Northbourne Avenue and London Circuit, the other on London Circuit next to the city police station and opposite the Reserve Bank – and two midsize five-storey buildings.

The corner site is the most prominent and Mr Snow said the company planned to do something special there architecturally.

Courts car park

The corner area of the courts’ car park where a landmark 11-12 storey building will be built. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Mr Snow said it would still be an office-driven development but the opportunity was there to add other uses such as a hotel.

He said the site could accommodate about 55,000 square metres of lettable space and at least half would be for offices.

“You can scale up or down depending on the final scheme,” Mr Snow said.

The goal on the ground plane, particularly opposite the Melbourne building, would be to create a vibrant dining precinct.

“There’s a market for that if you can create some nice spaces, and if you can, it gives the opportunity to bring food and beverage operators from outside of the ACT, national and international,” Mr Snow said.

Residential development was allowed on the site, but at this stage, no decision has been made yet.

The current car park would need to be replicated in the development, something Mr Snow said would serve the new precinct and the city itself.

The company would maintain its commitment to sustainability in the project, orienting buildings to capture as much natural light as possible, achieving a 5-star NABERS energy rating, a WELL rating and a carbon-neutral status, or no gas, for the office component.

Mr Snow said settlement was in mid-December, followed by a year of planning with a Works Approval application hopefully submitted to the NCA at the end of 2024.

The project is estimated to take three years to complete.

The build will coincide with the construction of light rail Stage 2A to Commonwealth Park along London Circuit. Mr Snow said the company would have to coordinate with the government and Transport Canberra so the two projects could proceed smoothly.

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City Renewal Authority Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Snow said he was delighted with the sale of the prominent site to the Capital Property Group for the social and economic benefits it would bring to the City Centre.

“This land can be so much more than a car park. It will become a high-quality and sustainable development comprising buildings and spaces for thousands of people to connect with each other in the heart of our city,” Malcolm Snow said.

“It will make a major contribution to the ongoing renewal of our City Centre, encourage further private investment and support the livelihoods of many nearby restaurants, cafes and retail shops.”

JLL ACT managed the land sale.

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Ross of Canberra6:42 pm 03 Dec 23

1. 11-12 storey buildings? Just like every great city DOES NOT have?
The poor animal residents of the park will have just shade for winter.
2. The current car park would need to be replicated
Will that house the same number of vehicle PLUS the additional requirements of the office tenants?
The city is stolen from me and all long-term residents, sold from under our feet.

William Newby10:32 pm 26 Nov 23

Must be nice being handed an airport in the Capital.

The city , who actually wants to go there by choice ?offers nothing , just expensive shops

Canberra’s preoccupation with cars will be death of this fine city if it is not restricted.

yeah well public transport isn’t really a viable option, so good luck with restricting car use.

Finally! Those car parks are such an eyesore

Martin Silsby10:02 pm 24 Nov 23

Shame they can’t work an underground bus interchange into the site as well. This would free up quite a bit of the area around the Melbourne and Sydney buildings, and improve the feel of city considerably.

Someone will build an 8 story carpark on one of these blocks and barr will weep

GrumpyGrandpa8:14 pm 24 Nov 23

Whilst the development is said to replicate the “existing car parking”, does that means the same number of car parks?
I expect not, but regardless, the demands of the tenants and users of services within the development are sure to absorb a lot of the “replicated” parking, meaning a net reduction in City parking.

That whole car park will be gone for the 3 years of construction!

Do people who currently park in this area, now jump the bus from -say Tuggeranong or Fraser? We don’t all live in the inner-north on LR. Or do they take advice from the Government and get active and ride a push-bike or walk?

I wonder whether the car park will close prior to the October 2024 election? I suspect not.

Jesus wept. When will they stop pretending there is no need for parking or that reducing parking temporarily is not an impost on say, oh I don’t know, people using the courts.

No doubt the new buildings will have expensive Wilson car parks to claw back development costs.

Malcolm Roxburgh2:12 pm 24 Nov 23

The Snow family has added the Law Courts car park to its burgeoning city portfolio. See what its vision is for this important block of land.
This NOT a block of land, it IS the bloody carpark for the Law Courts. Enough of this government selling every car park to fund it’s useless tram system.

Steady on tiger it’s still a block of land. It’s being re-purposed to what some people consider more useful function in a growing city and what others will always see as “their” parking lot. Who wants to live in a giant parking lot? Cities can be much more interesting.

I’d rather they sell off car parks than increase our rates and taxes.

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