A prime block of land on London Circuit next to City Hill and on the proposed light rail route has been released to the market as part of the ACT Government’s renewal of Canberra’s city centre.
The almost two-hectare site (Block 1 Section 121 City) opposite the QT Hotel is part of the clover leaf arrangement being dismantled in the Raising London Circuit project, the precursor to the 1.7 km Light Rail Stage 2 to Commonwealth Park via City West.
JLL is marketing the land, currently a staging post for the project, via an international expression of interest process on behalf of the City Renewal Authority.
The 18,959 square metre site can have multiple uses, including residential, with capacity for 500 dwellings – hotel, offices and retail.
If other recent city land sales are anything to go by, the site could bring about $60 million.
Development there will complement the One City Hill office project taking shape next door and be a gateway precinct on the southern approach to the city.
JLL’s managing director for the ACT Tim Mutton said the rare release was one of the most significant development sites to come to market with frontages to London Circuit, Edinburgh Avenue, Vernon Circle and Commonwealth Avenue.
“Land release offerings have been extremely rare within the central city area, let alone one of this scale,” he said.
“The site presents an opportunity for developers to create something unique that will become part of the history of Canberra’s renewal.”
City Renewal Authority acting CEO Craig Gillman said the two-stage tender process and the sale conditions were focused on a high-quality design and achieving a good value for money outcome for the Territory.
Mr Gillman said that the ground plane in particular was crucial because of its interaction with nearby areas in that part of the city.
“This a really critical site for how Canberrans access New Acton, how Canberans can get to the university,” he said.
“So how that ground plane works and gets down to the lake, how active it is, even the mix of commercial that might sit on that ground plane is really important.”
The successful buyer would also need to include a minimum of 70 affordable dwellings as part of the residential component.
Mr Gillman said the CRA was also looking for strong innovation in bidders’ proposals, including “top-notch” sustainability features.
He said the site was big enough to support a combination of the available uses.
The release was timed to coincide with the Raising London Circuit project and would have a two-year settlement, during which the developer could finalise plans and submit a Works Application to the National Capital Authority.
But not before the CRA saw and approved it first.
“There are really strong controls on making sure we get the right quality submitted the NCA and in the Works Application,” Mr Gillman said.
It was hoped that construction could start in 2026 when the Raising London Circuit project was completed.
Mr Gillman said the land was a truly landmark site and its development would be significant for the city.
“It will mean more people living and working in the city – that will mean economic benefits for the city but also more activation of that side of the city as well,” he said.
“You’ve got light rail right on the doorstep.”
The CRA is still awaiting settlement on the sale of Block 40 Section 100 on the northern gateway near the Law Courts, where an 11-storey Commonwealth office block is planned.
Expressions of Interest for the City West site close on 4 July 2023.