7 March 2022

Build to Rent gathers steam in Canberra with DA for massive Northbourne project

| Ian Bushnell
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Evri Groups proposed Build to rent project

An artist’s impression of Evri Group’s proposed Build to Rent project in Braddon. Image: Fender Katsalidis.

More Build to Rent proposals are coming on stream to meet Canberra’s demand for rental accommodation, with a development application lodged for a 447-unit complex in Braddon and a converted mixed-use project in Gungahlin to provide 95 dwellings.

The national capital has one of the tightest rental markets in the country, the highest rents, and sky-high home prices, and the ACT Government is actively pursuing the Build to Rent model as a solution.

Evri Group unveiled its Braddon proposal last October and has now officially moved ahead with the $151 million, all-electric, Fender Katsalidis designed project on the city gateway corner of Northbourne and Wakefield Avenues.

Calling it mixed-use commercial and residential village, Evri plans three high-rise buildings on the 10,663 square-metre site, which is currently buildings and a surface car park, ranging from 25 to 45 metres tall.

Two will be residential with ground floor commercial retail space including restaurants and bars, while the third will be an office block.

Evri claims the residential component will be Canberra’s first true Build to Rent proposal.

The DA says the building closest to Wakefield Avenue (Building C) will be solely residential, with SOHO (small office/home office) type residences at the ground level and a variety of SOHO, one, two and three-bedroom units above to 10 storeys (32m).

The 13-storey middle building (Building B) will host the main entry and lobby concierge, plus co-working office and commercial tenancies at ground level and residential units above.

Northbourne Avenue corridor

Looking north along the Northbourne Avenue corridor. Image: Fender Katsalidis.

The third building, furthest to the south, (Building A) will be a six-storey commercial building.

Buildings A and B will reduce in height towards the eastern boundary at higher levels to minimise shadowing of neighbouring residential dwellings, and will include communal rooftop gardens and dog park.

Shared facilities for residents and the public will include a gym, swimming pool and games and function rooms.

The site itself will have setbacks ranging from 10 to 13 metres and enough separation between the buildings for a central plaza, open spaces and pedestrian thoroughfares throughout.

READ ALSO Four-townhouse proposal on a 967 square metre block a disaster, says residents association

Thirty per cent of the site will be permeable to allow for the planting of 84 trees to go with 52 that will be retained. Forty will be removed.

Evri is proposing 480 parking spaces in the four-level basement, fewer than required mainly because of the proximity to light rail.

It also proposes a 68-space shared resident and commercial parking area, on a car park lease basis, where spaces are generally unallocated so complex employees can use empty resident spaces during the day and vice-versa for residents at night.

Commercial End-of-Trip bicycle facilities are also proposed.

Access will be from Lowanna Street and Wakefield Street, with an exit only onto Northbourne Avenue that will also be used by waste vehicles. An internal driveway, with traffic calming measures, is planned between Wakefield Avenue and Lowanna Street, with an additional service driveway to link Lowanna Street to Northbourne Avenue.

As well, a porte-cochere is proposed along Northbourne Avenue for drop off/collection, particularly for commercial tenancies.

Proposed Amici building in Gungahlin

HPI’s proposed Amici building in Gungahlin. It’s now a Build to Rent project. Image: Kasparek Architects.

In Gungahlin, HPI wants to amend the already approved DA for its Amici building on Camilleri Way so it can convert its planned mixed-use project to a Build to Rent model.

It wants to strip the commercial and retail components and replace them with units increasing the residential component from 58 to 95 dwellings.

HPI says it is responding to the demand for longer-term rental accommodation in Canberra after slow sales and a volatile few years in the property market.

Comments on the amended DA close on 9 March, and the Evri DA on 22 March.

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One of Australia’s top housing market researchers Dr Cameron Murray recently indicated he expects build to rent to turn out to be a multi-billion-dollar giveaway to existing large property owners with no benefits to housing occupants.

Michael Roettger9:15 pm 09 Mar 22

If the build–to-rent scheme is done correctly, it could dramatically improve housing security and well-being of individuals who cannot afford to buy a house or pay $400k for a unit. I lived in rental complexes in several cities in the US prior to moving to Australia. Rental complexes, as long as I paid my rent and kept the property maintained, eliminated the risk of being kicked out by new owners and could be rented for many years. The current system in Canberra is brutal and perpetuates a system of inequality between those who own housing and those who must rent a place to live.

Build to rent – a disturbing new precedent in the for-profit financialisation of housing by the corporate sector, facilitated by a government that obediently prioritises lucrative business opportunities for a small minority over over the living standards / common wealth of current and future generations. It’s extraordinary how out of touch the ACT Labor and Greens are with their own policy principles of equity, equality, equal participation and access when it comes to the housing market.

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