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.
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.
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.
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.