The owner of Belconnen Markets has unveiled plans to inject a sense of Paris or Madrid into the reimagining of the precinct, with a European-style market hall revealed as part of its $100 million redevelopment.
“In Europe, what you see is retrofitted old buildings incorporated into existing market precincts,” Elanor Investors Group co-head of real estate Michael Baliva said.
“Similar to what you see in Melbourne, we don’t want to create an environment that feels like a shopping centre: artificially lit and ventilated.”
Landmark architecture, open spaces, extended trading hours, and nighttime restaurant and bar options will ideally invigorate the area.
“Our vision is to transform the Belconnen Markets precinct into a vibrant day-night destination for Canberra residents and its visitors to provide a unique experience not available elsewhere in the ACT or NSW,” Mr Baliva said.
Stage 1 construction on a three-hectare site opposite Bunnings Warehouse is due to begin this month, with half of the 3750 square metre development already leased to national retailers including Chemist Warehouse, Petbarn, Toyworld and the Elements 4 Life gymnasium chain.
Stage 1 will also have 112 street and basement car parks. It is due to be completed in October.
The development application for Stage 2 is expected to be available for public comment this week.
Construction of the second phase will see Elanor relocate traders to temporary premises it is providing in and around the old Petbarn building.
Mr Baliva said traders were obviously concerned about any disruptions in the short term but were generally looking forward to being in a brand new facility in a broadening catchment and trading area.
Elanor is aiming to create a landmark building that will be seen from Belconnen Way, with the tall, high-roof market hall set on a basement car park for 190 vehicles.
The 4300 square metre market hall, 1500 square metres more than at present, will use natural light and ventilation.
A 100 square metre park will also replace the existing play area.
“We want it to be a natural feeling environment, with open spaces where people can take their meals or produce and eat it out in the park outside the market hall.”
Mr Baliva said in Europe fresh food was increasingly complemented by dining options to create a more wholistic experience.
The markets will move to seven-day trading and extend opening hours into the evening to attract those looking to dine as well as shop.
“We have a lot of loyal customers at the markets but we want to extend the reach to incorporate people who are looking for dining options and attract people who live in apartments who may not cook at home regularly,” he said.
With Belconnen’s population density growing, especially in student numbers, Elanor hopes to attract a younger, broader demographic while looking after the loyal customer base.
Construction on Stage 2 is expected to start later in the year with completion due in late 2021.
The sites of the temporary premises and additional car parking are earmarked for further development stages.