Preparations for the construction of Canberra’s first Meriton hotel in the city are proceeding with plans submitted for a basement car park that will eventually service the five-star, 16-storey, more than 200-suite project.
The DA for the two-level car park is part of a multi-phased approach the Harry Triguboff-owned Meriton Group has taken to developing the site at 40 Allara Street, which it acquired from Australian Unity for $23 million in July 2019.
An already-submitted DA for the demolition of the existing building and pedestrian air bridge is being assessed.
A lease variation for the car park is to be progressed separately and concurrently with this DA, to be followed by plans for the design and siting of the hotel and a lease variation to increase the gross floor area allowed and cater for changes of use.
In this stage of the process, the existing below-ground basement car park is to be demolished and the site excavated so the new car park can be constructed.
There will be 68 car spaces, including three for people with a disability, and three or four motorcycle spaces, more than double the number required, as well as storage for bicycles. Above it, the site will be landscaped and a small single-storey building constructed that will include a service lift room, four lifts and a stairwell to the car park.
The project will cost $5.6 million and has been certified as being able to structurally support the hotel which will reach the maximum RL617 height allowed in the city (about 50 metres).
The traffic report says access to the car park will be via a ramp from Rabaul Lane near the northern corner of the site, while access to the loading dock/waste storage area will be from a separate access driveway a short distance to the south-west along Rabaul Lane towards Nangari Street.
It is estimated that there will be about 29 inwards and 62 outwards trips to and from the hotel during the morning commuter peak period, and 65 inwards and 32 outwards trips during the evening commuter peak period.
A valet service will be provided for vehicles to move between reception and the basement car park after concerns that guests unfamiliar with the road network might find the route to the car park entry difficult to navigate.
Guests will arrive at a reception area on Allara Street. Access from Nangari Street via a porte-cochere (covered entrance) to reception had been considered but the City Renewal Authority had been concerned about the safety of cyclists and pedestrians along Nangari Street with the multiple vehicular crossings of the porte-cochere.
According to early plans, the proposed hotel will be a mix of studio, one, two and three-bedroom suites, with a penthouse, ground floor retail, a pool and a gym.
Most of the development (around 70 per cent) will be one-bedroom suites, 20 per cent will have two bedrooms and 10 per cent will have three bedrooms.
At ground level, three retail spaces and lobby areas will be connected to surrounding public places through a pedestrian colonnade to the site’s three street frontages.
The first 10 levels will contain one to two-bedroom apartments, including a three-storey podium, while the upper levels will have three-bedroom suites and amenities such as the pool and gym, as well as a garden, juice bar and rooftop green spaces.
Meriton hopes to expand retail and commercial floorspace opportunities, particularly for independent, niche and boutique retail, and create more vibrancy in public places where landscaping is also planned.
Meriton Suites general manager Matthew Thomas said last July that Canberra and Melbourne were the chain’s two most requested destinations.
Mr Thomas said the planned hotel was in a precinct that was going through significant regeneration.
“It’s changing to a mixed-use area that will see more ground-level and after-hours activity,” he said. “We see the new ACT Government headquarters, under construction in Constitution Place, as a massive driver for the location.”
Mr Triguboff is the largest hotel owner and apartment operator in Australia, with 4945 suites spread across 19 hotels in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. He is also expanding to Melbourne.