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Geocon proposes 16-storey, five-star hotel for Garema Place

By Ian Bushnell 1 May 2018 57

The proposed hotel building as viewed from Garema Place looking north towards the site. Source: Architectural plans by Fender Katsalidis Architecture.

Canberra developer Geocon is proposing to build a 16-storey, five-star, 233-room hotel and mixed use development that will front Garema Place and Bunda Street in Civic.

Geocon, which owns and operates the Abode Group of hotels,  bought the Garema Centre building at 70 Bunda Street last September for $13.35 million.

The development application, which also seeks to vary the Crown lease to permit the hotel and change pavement requirements, says the $46,446,964 project will also include a wellness centre (gym/pool), an internal courtyard, bar and bistro, café, hotel buffet restaurant, signature restaurant, hotel club lounge and hotel outdoor bar, and roof terrace pool.

Designed by Fender Katsalidis Architecture with landscape architecture design by Oculus, the building will also include internal green spaces, a mezzanine floor, two basement levels, and other commercial tenancies.

The site, on Block 5 Section 47 in the city, fronts Bunda Street on the north and Garema Place on the south and is occupied by a two-storey building with a basement level, with the ground floor consisting primarily of food and drink premises and a variety of commercial and retail premises on the first floor. The basement is vacant. The building will need to be demolished.

The application, prepared by Knight Frank Town Planning, says the proposed building includes a podium and tower that have been ”skilfully designed to respond to the site, surrounding buildings, dual site frontages and Canberra’s city centre”.

“It will significantly improve the built form presentation and quality of the locality and Canberra’s city centre,” it says.

The proposed hotel building as viewed from Bunda Street looking south-west towards the site.

The application says the proposed building will reinforce the existing curve of Bunda Street with the highly activated ground floor frontage consisting of transparent glazing to the hotel lobby and associated areas.

On Garema Place, the ground floor and mezzanine will align with the existing building frontages on Blocks 1 and 3, and incorporate active frontages to the proposed bistro/bar, internal corridor and café.

Level 1 of the building will extend to the title boundary to Garema Place over the existing pedestrian easement, providing weather protection for pedestrians.

The application says the tower will commence at level 2 and extends to level 14 and the roof top plant, with a triangular design and ‘sleek’ appearance to minimise its visual scale and presence when viewed from various parts of Garema Place.

A solar analysis from Fender Katsalidis Architects indicates that Garema Place will remain substantially sunlit between the hours of 12 (noon) and 2 pm on the winter solstice (21 June), with the vast majority of shadows from the proposed building cast over the roofs of the buildings already located, as well as service lanes and vehicular traffic roadways.

The site, marked in red.

A key design element is the building’s landscaped core, with voids to the ground, mezzanine and level 1 above providing space for the planting of large trees and shrubs.

The level 2 landscaped terrace is described as an urban oasis that will include trees, shrubs and ground covers to provide a lush outdoor garden setting complemented by the swimming pool.

The traffic and parking impact assessment prepared by AECOM says a total of 21 car parking spaces are proposed on basement level 2 with access provided from the Bunda Street via a single vehicular cross over.

The Garema Centre site at 70 Bunda Street. Photo: Colliers International.

The basement will be serviced by a single car lift with capacity to move one vehicle at a time.

“The car lift is a practical solution given the limitations of the site and dense urban context,” it says.

The assessment says that 21 car spaces is considered appropriate, given the site’s location in the heart of the CBD and the availability of public car parking spaces nearby.

It says the surrounding existing road network is adequate to accommodate the traffic generated by the proposed development.

The proposal will also need approval from the National Capital Authority as the site and Territory land nearby is subject to special requirements under the National Capital Plan (NCP).

What’s Your opinion?


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54 Responses to
Geocon proposes 16-storey, five-star hotel for Garema Place
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Sue Ellen 9:17 pm 05 May 18

The fact it will bulldoze Gus' seems a more important issue than the limited car parking. We have such meagre heritage in Canberra as it is. We can't afford to keep bulldozing it for soulless development. Blocking sunshine into Garema Place is also a major concern. It's currently one of the few places in the city where workers can get sun on a winter's day.

Kelly Anne 9:47 am 03 May 18

Karen an interesting read

JC 7:10 am 03 May 18

Surely the number of carparks is a commercial decision of the business. If they think that 21 is enough and they prove to be wrong it is their money they will be loosing as customers will stay elsewhere.

I’ve stayed at hotels in Sydney and Melbourne CBD’s that don’t have carparks and have survived the ordeal. And in both cases I have travelled with and without cars. In Sydney just recently I stayed at Vibe on Bathurst street and Melbourne the Mercure just off Collins Street.

Now if we were talking about a residential apartment building then I would share the ‘rage’.

    chewy14 10:41 am 03 May 18

    Yes, I agree and there’s a massive public carpark directly across the road from this new hotel.

    I’d also be almost certain that the hotel will do a deal with the Canberra Centre carpark operators to offer cheaper parking rates for their guests.

    Ghettosmurf87 12:18 pm 03 May 18

    Finally someone looking at the parking sensibly! If people travelling to Canberra desperately need their car, they’ll opt to stay elsewhere. I’m sure this won’t be the difference between no one staying there and it being full. Usually that’s dependent on the quality and service provided by the hotel at an appropriate price point.

    As for staff parking, there are a myriad of businesses in the city that don’t offer designated parking to their staff. This is no different.

Robert McMahon 10:35 pm 02 May 18

One word: No. Enough is enough.

Tramcar Trev 7:23 pm 02 May 18

Hell yeah we need development like this but to counter the lack of car parks maybe legalise Segways so those who can't park their car can just rock on in on their Segway...

Deirdre Trow 12:34 pm 02 May 18

Ridiculous....21 carparks is a joke.

Hans Dimpel 8:42 am 02 May 18

lol 16 car parking spaces for a 233 room hotel. Yeah right maximising profits for developers again.

Andrew Reisinger 8:40 am 02 May 18

Or make it twin towers with a connecting bridge in the middle so sunlight still streams through in winter?

Spiral 7:17 am 02 May 18

I agree that 21 car parks seems ridiculous.

It may not be as bad as it seems, as the hotel may provide valet parking where they park your car off site in a public carpark (such as the nearby Canberra Centre). That presumably could be done for around the cost people are already paying for valet parking at hotels in Canberra.

However, this of course then means that up to 200+ public carparks would become unavailable for other users, leading to increased parking pressure in Civic which is not nice.

    Maya123 9:37 am 02 May 18

    I agree, the hotel should have more parking, or as you say, use a valet parking service, although if I were a guest, I would hope the car went into a caged area for security. However, as for the locals wanting parking, I don’t understand why so many think they need to drive to Civic. Catch the bus. I do.

Andrew Reisinger 7:05 am 02 May 18

21 car spaces is nothing short of a farce. That’s such an issue whilst travelling domestically.

Put the car parking under ground! Stop wasting the sky and ground in this city!!

Aldith Graves 1:25 am 02 May 18

Must have parking for a fair percentage of the users of the building. Hotel/motel guests need cars around Canberra & the mixed use businesses & people who patronise them also need parking.

You’re living in LaLa land if you think you can run a building of this size without parking.

Too big for the small community space in this area

Maya123 11:55 pm 01 May 18

Only TWO hours sunshine. That is ridiculous!

    chewy14 11:38 am 02 May 18

    That’s not what the article says.

    It says that Garema place will still have substantial sunlit areas during 12-2pm on the winter solstice which is the lowest the sun gets in the sky every year, hence greatest degree of southerly shading from buildings like this.

    If the building is 50 odd metres high, it will be shading 80 odd metres south at this time, which is the worst it will be each year.

    It’s clear that there will be significant shading, particularly during this early winter period, but it’s not saying that there will only be 2 hours of sunshine in the square.

    Maya123 12:06 pm 02 May 18

    It was understood that meant the winter solstice. Two hours is still inadequate. Although that needs to be taken into account with what sun falls in Garema Place during the shortest day now, to get a better idea of how this new building will effect this. I am by the way in favour of something like this, as it can only help improve the local area and hopefully take some of the shopping away from the black hole which is the mall.

    chewy14 8:24 pm 02 May 18

    I still don’t think you’re getting what I’m saying.

    The article is not saying that the square will only get two hours sunshine, just that during those two hours, there will still be significant areas of the square that get sunshine.

    There are currently areas of the square that get zero sunshine and some that get lots. This building will obviously make shading worse, particularly in winter.

    Whether that’s a big issue or not depends on how you judge the value of adequate sunlight in the square.

Craig Allen 11:18 pm 01 May 18

If the ACT Government doesn't stand up to developers they will ruin the city with cheap buildings and no proper facilities, they only care about the money and will drop all responsibility once the building is sold.

Amanda Evans 10:48 pm 01 May 18

There won't be any sunshine. This building will be to the north. Canberra needs sunshine in Winter. Garema Place will fail. This is a poor urban design outcome.

    Justin Watson 3:19 pm 06 May 18

    You are right, I was in Garema place yesterday at 9am and the sun was just above the ATO building behind the Canberra centre. A big tower in that location is a bad idea. That said we really need to make use of city walk better and stop all the businesses being sucked into the Canberra Centre.

Shayne Borger 8:55 pm 01 May 18

Ridiculous soulless design n no parking. Can’t trust Geocon given the issues with the Belconnen tower. Build quality not quantity

Hazel Tate 8:41 pm 01 May 18

Fish Zafar our new neighbors 👀

Elizabeth Martin 8:34 pm 01 May 18

Too high but that area of the city is sad and needs some improvement so do hope more is done on City Walk.

Arety Kr 6:54 pm 01 May 18

Eff off Geocon. Will it come with random noises in the walls?....

Matt Carton 6:39 pm 01 May 18

Jacob Mac geobarrcon

Donna Burns 6:36 pm 01 May 18

That is crazy, parking is already an issue in town. Wouldn’t you as a minimum need to have adequate parking for motel guests??? Am sure there’d be more than 21 rooms?!!!

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