15 July 2021

Doma plans apartments and offices on Woden site

| Ian Bushnell
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Woden site on Melrose Drive

The Woden site on Melrose Drive sold for $12.5 million. Photos: File.

Canberra developer Doma Group is planning a four-building development on a key Woden block it has bought for $12.5 million from the ACT Government.

Block 2 Section 180, on the corner of Melrose Drive and Corinna Street, is Zoned CZ2 for a variety of uses including multi-unit housing, hotel accommodation, serviced apartments and shops, and was billed by the Suburban Land Agency as being part of the urban renewal phase of Woden Town Centre.

It can carry a maximum of 480 dwellings, but must include 74 affordable, 10 public and five community housing units.

General Manager Development Gavin Edgar said the current masterplan envisaged three residential buildings with 480 dwellings and a large office building of between 15,000-20,000 square metres net lettable area in a staged development over the next two years.

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He said the property was a long-term proposition and the fundamentals of Woden were very strong.

”Canberra has strong employment and we believe demand for this location will be strong for future residential and office space,” Mr Edgar said.

But he warned that the COVID-19 restrictions and economic fallout had affected project timelines across Doma’s developments.

”The government has done an excellent job of keeping things going but we need more understanding and appreciation of the enormity of the situation and some sympathy from all stakeholders that things are going to take a bit longer during COVID restrictions,” he said.

”We welcome the Federal Government announcement for the $25,000 stimulus on new off-the-plan apartments and see that as a huge benefit for getting pre-sales to allow projects to not just be ‘shovel ready’ but ‘finance ready’ as well.”

A streetscape in the Foothills development

A streetscape in the Foothills development in Campbell. An updated Indigenous Heritage report on the site is under way.

Mr Edgar said COVID-19 had impacted projects in Canberra, Newcastle and Sydney mainly due to added safety measures and social distancing regimes to manage the welfare of workers, losing 20-30 per cent productivity at the peak of the restrictions.

The company has also had to cope with supply chain challenges, and changing materials, air freighting equipment or even switching from offshore to local manufacturers.

Doma recently completed the handover of the ACT Government Office in Dickson and is on track to complete DKSN (102 dwellings) in the same suburb in the next weeks.

The 186-apartment A&A redevelopment in Woden, not far from the just-purchased block, will have its first residents move-in in a matter of weeks and progressively from August.

”We have continued to progress designs of key pipeline projects and hope to commence construction of Stage 2 DKSN in Dickson this year, the Foothills in Campbell and a new office development in Barton, subject to tenant demand,” Mr Edgar said.

Construction on the Foothills has been delayed due to a claim of an Indigenous heritage site on the land, and Mr Edgar said an updated Indigenous Heritage report was underway as requested by the planning authority.

Mr Edgar said pre-purchase studies had concluded that it was unlikely that there would be any archaeological sites within the study area.

”The study area has been impacted in a number of ways all of which would have limited the potential for sites to survive,” the company had been told.

”The sub-surface potential is considered to be low based on the small area within the study area that has not been impacted by prior development, the terrain and the location of the study area in relation to permanent water sources.”

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