14 August 2023

Garema Place and City Walk upgrades a step closer with tender release

| Ian Bushnell
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An artist’s impression of what Garema Place could look like. Photos: ACT Government.

The remaking of Garema Place and the creation of a people-friendly green spine in the city are one step closer with the release of a design tender.

Initial plans for a greener, safer and more hospitable Garema Place were released earlier in the year for public feedback and now the City Renewal Authority (CRA) is seeking a design consultant team to provide final plans ahead of construction.

The successful tenderer will also have the job of providing a concept design for an overhaul of the remaining sections of City Walk to be upgraded.

The CRA is aiming to transform Garema Place from a struggling city space into a destination dining and retail precinct. Likewise, it wants to complete the revamp of City Walk, after the successful Stage 1 works from Garema Place to Ainslie Place, down to Allara Street.

It sees this as a pedestrian thoroughfare that will connect the ANU to the new UNSW campus to be developed in Reid.

Aerial map

The CRA is aiming to revamp City Walk from Garema Place to Allara Street.

CRA CEO Malcolm Snow said the original pedestrianised treatment of these key city areas was pretty tired and in need of a touch-up.

He said the feedback had been loud and clear that people wanted more shade trees and greenery to cool the space in summer, and better seating and outdoor dining spaces.

“They’re certainly saying that they’d like to see a higher quality of urban landscape as well in terms of furniture, lighting, the sorts of things that probably people are seeing in other cities, which Canberra deserves as well,” Mr Snow said.

He said the recent screening of the Matildas’ World Cup matches showed Garema Place was a fantastic gathering space for public events, but it also needed to be for daily use as well.

That was also a challenge for the Akuna Street area end of City Walk where the Multicultural Festival was staged.

Mr Snow said some areas were quite shabby and there needed to be a high quality of detail and landscape to bring things back up to scratch.

In Garema Place people wanted less clutter and the pavement needed to be levelled to make it safer and more accessible, while the City Walk would continue the theme set in Stage 1.

City Walk between Garema Place and Ainslie Place will set the tone for the new works.

Mr Snow said the new City Walk area had brought people back, with daily use up by more than 300 per cent.

“I think the success of the Stage 1 works in City Walk in terms of how people are using it clearly has pointed to the fact that we’ve got the right formula there,” he said.

“So I think that combination of the trees and more importantly that that lower planting in the form of the garden beds we’ve created no doubt will continue to be a feature of the rest of the way we treat City Walk.”

Mr Snow said more trees would be needed to meet the government’s canopy target and they would be selected based on what would work best in the conditions.

But the CRA would aim to keep this city spine clear and uncluttered so that it was easy to navigate and encouraged safe spaces, although there could be scope for temporary structures when needed.

Mr Snow could not commit to a timeline for the entire project but expected to have a contractor appointed for the Garema Place works by the middle of next year.

He said the CRA could not afford for the works to be drawn out, given it wanted to work with businesses and minimise disruption to them.

Mr Snow said businesses should benefit from the works, which aim to increase trade in Garema Place and along City Walk.

The tender closes on 7 September.

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How about a racetrack for cyclists and e-scooter riders and possibly the occasional mobility scooter. I would actually come into Civic to see that.

Put a Police shopfront in there – with visible Police – and open it up to limited and slow moving traffic.

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