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Geocon lodges fresh plans for $70m city hotel project

Ian Bushnell 5 July 2019 90
Canberra City Luxury Hotel

The Garema Place frontage for Geocon’s Canberra City Luxury Hotel. Images from the DA.

Geocon has again amended its proposal for its Canberra City Luxury Hotel project in Garema Place to address concerns about overshadowing, parking and noise.

This is the fourth iteration of the almost $70 million mixed-use development which Geocon says will revitalise the city centre.

In May, the company unveiled its third version for pre-DA consultation, and has now addressed some of the concerns in a new development application.

Geocon is seeking to consolidate the Crown lease for Block 1 Section 47 City with the Crown lease for Block 5 Section 47 City, with the up to 11-storey development designed by Fender Katsalidis Architecture incorporating the historic Gus’s Cafe.

The new proposal cuts the number of apartments from 215 to 212, provides more office space to generate day traffic, increases parking to 90 spaces and scales back the upper levels to reduce overshadowing on to Garema Place during mid-winter.

Geocon says it has also addressed minor comments about noise and will continue to respond to feedback on the project website.

It says the proposed development will include the hotel, three basement levels and a mezzanine level, including two levels of offices, ground floor restaurants and basement venues for public and private events.

The development from Bunda Street.

There will be 11 storeys fronting Bunda Street, cascading back to six to nine storeys on Garema Place. The hotel lobby and an expanded Gus’s Brasserie, which Geocon says will be a hallmark of the development, will face Bunda Street, with another hotel entrance and eateries on Garema Place.

Geocon says it will be an iconic building that will deliver a vibrant mixed-use precinct, with the hotel including a multi-use ballroom, multi-use spaces located in the basement for comedy, live music, and other events. The company has been actively supporting the music industry in its efforts to ensure noise complaints do not see live venues shut down.

A signature restaurant will be sited on Level 7. Fronting both Bunda Street to the north and Garema Place to the south, the proposed rooftop will be a ‘hive of activity’ with an external roof terrace, large swimming pool, bar, outdoor lounging and seating areas and outdoor fitness areas including a gymnasium, as well as another restaurant.

“The proposed alfresco dining on Bunda Street and more importantly Garema Place, will transform the space and encourage more activity in this precinct,” the proposal says.

It says the provision of alfresco seating, low level wind protection, and lightweight retractable awnings and umbrellas, including heating and lighting, will set a precedent for the city.

“The renewed interest from the proposed development will invite pedestrians to come into, move through and most importantly stay within the Garema Place public realm and promote engagement with adjoining shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and businesses,” the proposal says.

Geocon, which owns and operates the Iconic Hotels group (formerly Abode), bought the Garema Centre building at 70 Bunda Street (Block 5 Section 47) in September 2017 for $13.35 million. It then acquired Block 1 Section 47.


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90 Responses to Geocon lodges fresh plans for $70m city hotel project
Sirkka Spannari Sirkka Spannari 12:12 pm 06 Jul 19

looks like an ugly monolith

nothappyjan nothappyjan 10:06 am 06 Jul 19

So are these just the temporary plans for development approval? With the real plans for maximum profit to be revealed later while the council are asleep, during the Christmas holidays etc, as per usual.

Lucas James Lucas James 12:26 am 06 Jul 19

How is having a noise-complaint factory built meant to "revitalise" anything?

Jim Hosie Jim Hosie 11:07 pm 05 Jul 19

This guy says the building looks familiar...

phoon phoon 10:47 pm 05 Jul 19

Why does Mr. Geocon think that we all want the place jammed with his apartments? Very few people do. If he thinks Canberra is so bad as it was why is he here? And has been noted 212 “premium” apartments with 90 car spaces is just silly.

Jennifer Jones Jennifer Jones 9:32 pm 05 Jul 19

We've been struggling for decades with strategies to enliven Garema place, plunging it into deep shadow should end the struggle, aka give up now.

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 8:51 pm 05 Jul 19

We’ll just rename the place GeoConberra, shall we?

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 8:41 pm 05 Jul 19

Geocon .. it's all ways Geocon.

Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 8:34 pm 05 Jul 19

I think the most accurate bit of this was when the hotel accommodation units were described as 'apartments' ... anyone taking bets on how long before we are hearing that the'hotel' isn't viable, but fortunately the deal can be saved by selling off the units privately? Also, I can't wait to see if the advertising on this project manages to be even more tasteless than Tryst etc...

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 8:25 am 06 Jul 19

    Tracey Crump are you ok with how Garema place is now Tracey? Wondering how often you visit that space?

    Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 9:30 am 06 Jul 19

    Elroy Jones as it happens, I'm there quite a bit. Very happy for upgrades/improvements to the area, but it's also clear to me that just because a developer says their proposal will improve'/activate'/revitalise an area, that won't necessarily be the result, and you can't wind it back once it's done. The time for realistic assessment is now, before development is allowed to start.

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:48 am 07 Jul 19

    Tracey Crump are you serious... if it’s zoned for hotel it must be used as a hotel.

    Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 8:03 am 08 Jul 19

    Jp Romano are you not aware of Canberra's long history of 'hotel' or serviced apartment developments that magically transform into residential?

    Daniel Königs Daniel Königs 9:13 am 08 Jul 19

    you do realise Canberra has quite a high booking rate of hotels? A lot of people come here for work during the week.

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:32 am 08 Jul 19

    Tracey Crump that’s a fallacy

    Michael Harper Michael Harper 9:37 am 08 Jul 19

    JP Romano where at Geocon do you work? All this talk of Canberra needing Geocon to hit it with the ugly stick in order to become a "city" sounds awfully familiar.

Tricia Woodhouse Tricia Woodhouse 8:25 pm 05 Jul 19

Georg N Helen Cygan....so it goes on..😞

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 8:19 pm 05 Jul 19

Do no other companies exist???

    Ian McTaggart Ian McTaggart 8:36 pm 06 Jul 19

    Other companies are not as crass and money hungry in their quest to make money at our expense. The lust and greed for even more money from their ugly buildings is sickening.

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:54 am 07 Jul 19

    Margaret Freemantle Geocon is also a construction company, in order for them to keep employing 4000 Canberrans they always need to have projects to work on.

    Jean-Baptiste Spahr Jean-Baptiste Spahr 10:07 am 07 Jul 19

    Jp Romano if I agree with you can I get a ticket to the next Geocon social event ?

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 12:24 pm 07 Jul 19

    Jp Romano- there are plenty of construction companies in Canberra - the argument that they employ 4000 Canberrans doesn’t stack up as an argument. We would prefer that companies with ethics and dedicated to quality get the work!! Then Canberrans can work for these companies

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 1:15 pm 07 Jul 19

    Margaret Freemantle not sure how much knowledge you have of economics but if Geocon decided to leave Canberra tomorrow the ACT economy would tank...

    Jean-Baptiste Spahr Jean-Baptiste Spahr 1:16 pm 07 Jul 19

    Jp Romano soooooo can I come ?

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 2:16 pm 07 Jul 19

    Jp Romano doubt it!!!!!

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 6:26 pm 07 Jul 19

    Margaret Freemantle get what work?

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 11:32 pm 07 Jul 19

    Ashley Wright construction work with whatever companies win the contracts

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:35 am 08 Jul 19

    Margaret Freemantle they employ over 4000 and have around $2bn of work in the pipeline - all in Canberra. The ACT economy is only worth about $4bn

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:36 am 08 Jul 19

    Margaret Freemantle except geocon is the builder and the developer.. their projects don’t go to tender

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 9:39 am 08 Jul 19

    Jp Romano don’t you see that as a problem??

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 9:41 am 08 Jul 19

    Jp Romano and I see that as another concern. Builders and developers bounce ideas off each other. Hence herein lies no scrutiny

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 6:56 pm 08 Jul 19

    Margaret Freemantle that’s what I thought you would say. But goes to show you have no idea what so ever.

    Geocon isn’t given a construction contract. They are a developer that buys land in an open market and in this case an existing building and develops it.

    Got an issue with Geocon how about you buy some land and develop it.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 7:28 pm 08 Jul 19

    Jp Romano if Geocon employs over 4000 people they must be doing something very creative to avoid so much payroll tax.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 7:45 pm 08 Jul 19

    Ashley Wright is there anyone in Canberra that DOES’NT have a issue with Geocon??? I know exactly what Geocon does and how they work - no thanks!

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 10:51 pm 08 Jul 19

    Margaret Freemantle your words clearly show you have no idea.

    I will repeat one more time. Geocon is a developer. They buy land on existing properties an open market. They propose developments and build them.

    You seem to think the government is handing over construction contracts to them which simply isn’t the case.

    Me personally I don’t have an opinion on Geocon either way but if you are going to run around bad mouthing them you should at least have a basic understanding of how they work.

Tony Morris Tony Morris 7:09 pm 05 Jul 19

Who wants to take a bet that whenever Barr either gets booted or steps down, he won't be far away from these muppets in his new job.

    Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 8:56 pm 05 Jul 19

    A consultant to the building industry? Surely not.

Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 7:01 pm 05 Jul 19

Looks like a slab of concrete.....for $70 million I think they can afford a design Architect....could be in for round 5....

Michael Egan Michael Egan 6:41 pm 05 Jul 19

I miss the city club 😂😂

Daniel Königs Daniel Königs 6:40 pm 05 Jul 19

More worried about the lack of noise protection in Canberra and this hotel destroying our entertainment district.

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:49 am 07 Jul 19

    Daniel Königs except the fact this hotel has a rooftop nightclub...

Jennifer Crawford Jennifer Crawford 6:39 pm 05 Jul 19

212 apartments and only 90 parking spaces? Someone isn’t good at maths 🙃

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:53 am 07 Jul 19

    Jennifer Crawford hotel rooms. Not many people drive.

    Michael Harper Michael Harper 9:42 am 08 Jul 19

    Since when do people not drive to hotels?

    Jennifer Crawford Jennifer Crawford 9:59 am 08 Jul 19

    I almost always need a parking space when I stay in a hotel.

Denis Svob Denis Svob 6:31 pm 05 Jul 19

And we are against this because...?

    Scott Humphries Scott Humphries 7:02 pm 05 Jul 19

    Because we are canberrans, and we must moan about any proposed development.

    Tony Morris Tony Morris 8:05 pm 05 Jul 19

    Scott Humphries Don't know where you live Scott, but look at the abominations that have gone up around lake (pond) Tuggers. Development absolutely, but come on surely we can do better then that rubbish.

    Stacey Ingram Stacey Ingram 8:15 pm 05 Jul 19

    Scott Humphries This is one worth moaning about though! The destruction of Canberra's live music scene has been happening for over a decade and this is like the final nail in the coffin.

    Our city used to be known for it's live music... wtf!!

    Scott Humphries Scott Humphries 9:01 pm 05 Jul 19

    Stacey Ingram I agree that live music and other nightlife needs to be protected, but the article mentions that the developer is also receptive to this. Hotels (and sometimes apartments) are able to coexist with live music venues in other cities. Admittedly it requires a higher design spec.

    Stacey Ingram Stacey Ingram 9:32 pm 05 Jul 19

    Scott Humphries It's Geocon's quality of developments that doesn't work here, not so much the hotel aspect.

    I lived in Surfers for awhile, a hotel could work well.

    However, after spending some time in one of Geocon's buildings, I am sceptic that they are the appropriate developers for this space. Or possibly any space, anywhere.

    Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 10:41 pm 05 Jul 19

    Here's one reason we might not be so keen..... https://the-riotact.com/geocon-brings-in-specialists-to-investigate-noise-problems-in-canberras-tallest-building/219247

    Jennifer Jones Jennifer Jones 2:43 pm 06 Jul 19

    Because we are canberrans we prefer properly thought out, best practice developments but our chief minister gets in the way.

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 12:23 am 07 Jul 19

    1st problem only 90 parking spots for 200+ units/rooms. 2nd The street is no longer able to take this much traffic. I think the design of the building is god allfull and it lacks soul (for a lack of a better description)

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:47 am 07 Jul 19

    Daniel Duncan hotel rooms... not everyone drives

    Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 6:00 pm 09 Jul 19

    Daniel Duncan most hotels I stay in in Sydney and other cities have limited parking, many tourists fly or bus to Canberra. Also 90 carpark spaces are hardly going to overload the street.

John McAvoy John McAvoy 6:26 pm 05 Jul 19

That is the ugliest design I have ever seen. Looks like a prefab garage No style Less taste.

Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 6:21 pm 05 Jul 19

'This is the fourth iteration of the almost $70 million mixed-use development which Geocon says will revitalise it's annual profits.

There, fixed it. 🙄

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:50 am 07 Jul 19

    Tracey Crump seems you are head of the anti Geocon lobby

    Kate Chisholm Kate Chisholm 2:12 pm 07 Jul 19

    Jp nah that title goes to

    Majority of Canberrans atm

    Hannah Feldy Hannah Feldy 9:01 am 08 Jul 19

    Jp seems to be leader of the opposition

Catherine Hunt Catherine Hunt 6:09 pm 05 Jul 19

Sorry. How on earth will a wind tunnel development revitalise the city centre?

    Daniel Königs Daniel Königs 6:41 pm 05 Jul 19

    Catherine Hunt the Garema centre needs to be replaced before it falls down.

    Catherine Hunt Catherine Hunt 6:54 pm 05 Jul 19

    Good grief!

    Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 8:50 pm 05 Jul 19

    Daniel Königs Even if that’s true there are plenty of ways of redeveloping the city centre without building multi-story monstrosities.

    Our so-called developers are devoid of imagination and only have an eye for the bottom line.

    Fiona Dickson Fiona Dickson 1:18 pm 06 Jul 19

    Yup wind tunnel and no proper thought going into public amenity...typical ACT Government hand in glove with developers. sticky, nasty business. Andrew Barr should be ashamed of his complacency and mediocrity - and lack of genuine vision for this city. Sterile unimaginative unsustainable environmentally and socially inept city planning.

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:51 am 07 Jul 19

    Catherine Hunt welcome to living in a city

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:52 am 07 Jul 19

    Gabriel Spacca listen to yourself - city centre. That’s where the fifty storey buildings should go

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