A new 11-storey, five-star hotel in the city is expected to take its first guests in 2022 after Geocon’s $70 million proposal was given the green light by the ACT planning authority.
The 212-room Canberra City Luxury Hotel will rise from Garema Place and feature a rooftop pool and bar, restaurants and cafés on the ground floor, a ballroom, and a high-end commercial office and meeting space.
The jewel in the dining precinct will be a new Gus’s Cafe, with Geocon saying it will maintain and honour the heritage of the site.
One of the many conditions attached to the approval requires Geocon to install an artwork or mural telling the story of the cafe and reinstalling a plaque.
Other more significant conditions include changes to the plans for the upper floors to reduce overshadowing, allowances for tree growth, bicycle parking on the ground floor, more street parking, and a Noise Management Plan.
This is the fourth iteration of the project designed by Fender Katsalidis Architecture, which began as a 16-storey, 233-room hotel but was scaled back amid concerns about overshadowing.
There were also concerns about insufficient parking, with the original proposal only containing 24 spaces. It now has 90.
Geocon says the hotel will bring an “unrivalled level of style and glamour to Canberra’s city centre, while still maintaining the character and charm of old Canberra thanks to key inclusions like Gus’s café”.
It says the rooftop bar and pool will become one of the most ‘Instagramable’ locations in Canberra, while the ballroom and commercial space will provide critical elements for commercial entertainment currently missing in the city centre.
“The convenience of its city location, proximity to the airport and light rail line, as well as access to some of Australia’s best restaurants will draw people, energy and vibrancy to the heart of Canberra’s CBD,” the company said.
Geocon Managing Director Nick Georgalis said the hotel would define the city centre and transform Bunda Street into a modern and inviting destination.
“Geocon has embarked on a journey to bring a series of five-star hotels to Canberra,” Mr Georgalis said.
“We began that journey last year with Midnight, a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel in the heart of Braddon. This new approval allows us to move onto the next piece in our plans, the Canberra City Luxury Hotel at Garema Place.”
Mr Georgalis said the two hotels would complement future hotel plans including West Block in the Parliamentary Triangle, and Geocon’s fourth luxury hotel in the Kingston Arts Precinct, a joint venture with the ACT Government.
Geocon is hoping to start construction on the city hotel by the end of 2020, with expectations it will be fully operational by 2022.
Demolition of the existing two-storey building is set to proceed in a few months after tenants have moved out.
A Geocon spokesperson said businesses had been given generous notice and offered rental premises in other Geocon sites such as Midnight in Braddon.
Geocon 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 and consolidated the two.