20 May 2021

Bulldozers ready for Dame Patti Menzies House in Dickson

| Ian Bushnell
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Dame Pattie Menzies House

Dame Pattie Menzies House: formerly a long-time ACT Government office complex. Photo: File.

One of Dickson’s most prominent buildings is set to disappear from the landscape with the lodging of plans to demolish the twin structure, four-storey complex.

Dame Patti Menzies House in Challis Street was home to ACT Government offices, last being occupied by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate before staff moved to the new government offices nearby on Northbourne Avenue.

Merrylin Lindland Pty Ltd bought the property from the government in 2017 for $15 million and had tried to offload it early in 2020 before having a change of heart and deciding to redevelop the site.

Earlier this year AIT Properties Group lodged a DA for a six-storey mixed-use development on the key 3.5-hectare site on the corner of Challis and Cape streets.

When the government sold the property, the City Renewal Authority said the site was a fantastic urban renewal opportunity close to light rail and the group centre.

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Since then, new apartment blocks have sprung up in the area or are in the process of being built, a redevelopment of the Dickson shops is imminent, the new government office block has opened and the CRA is embarking on a makeover for the area’s streetscapes.

Now the buildings face the wrecking ball with the DA lodged for its demolition ahead of the redevelopment of the site.

As well as both four-storey buildings, the walkway between the two and the basement being bulldozed, pavements, kerbs, paths and some trees will be ripped up, to be replaced in the ensuing redevelopment.

The $41 million proposal, designed by Cox Architecture, will deliver 163 dwellings in the six-storey plus attic building, which will have ground-floor commercial tenancies and two levels of basement parking.

A ground floor lobby will service five floors of 30 apartments each, with the attic to house 13 apartments.

The mix of dwellings includes 55 one-bedroom, 102 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom apartments. The ground floor commercial space amounts to 2,283 square metres.

A new laneway is proposed along the northern edge of the site for waste collection, and a pedestrian link between Challis and Woolley streets, which the proponent says is in line with the Dickson Master Plan and City Renewal Authority aspirations for this part of Dickson.

New landscaping and pavement are proposed for the areas around the building to match recently completed public realm works, including deep-rooted zones for trees.

The site is zoned CZ2, which allows for various uses, including commercial, residential and retail, and the Dickson precinct code allows for buildings up to six storeys high.

Dame Patti Menzies was the wife of Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies.

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What a dreadful shame as the building was named after a great lady. Not impressed at all.

Another building from the Legoland era in Canberra in the 1980s about to bite the dust. Let’s hope the architecture this time is a lot more resilient and classy, and able to withstand everyday use. Many people might not know that these buildings were called “fast track buildings”. The objective was to get the buildings up as fast as possible and the plans were actually drawn up as the building was being constructed.

I worked in one of those buildings, the old customs house in Constitution Avenue in 1989 just over a year after it was finished. The building was falling apart even at that stage. Hopefully lessons have been learnt since then.

Haha two words say that lessons have not been learned Opal Tower

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