Giralang shops development on ropes without supermarket tenant

Ian Bushnell 15 April 2020 25
Empty Giralang shops

The empty Giralang shops site seen from the public school, with the beginnings of the residential component of the development. Photos: Michelle Kroll.

The long-awaited Giralang shops development has hit another hurdle, with the developer saying that the failure to secure a supermarket as the anchor tenant has made the project unviable.

Nikias Diamond director Dimitri Nikias told Region Media that the company had not been able to secure a supermarket for the $19 million mixed-use development and, as a result, it would now have to explore other options for the site, which remains fenced off with the project on hold.

”That said, we have not given up hope of finding a suitable supermarket tenant and will continue to pursue this as part of our ongoing considerations for the site,” he said.

“If there is one thing that has come out of this COVID-19 virus it is that supermarkets are very much an essential service to a community. Hopefully, this will trigger an interest in Giralang.”

In a letter to be sent to the Giralang, Kaleen and Evatt communities, Mr Nikias wrote that since the development application was approved in August 2018 after Planning Minister Mick Gentleman used his call-in powers, the developer had conducted an exhaustive campaign to find the ‘anchor’ supermarket tenant essential to make the development viable and provide long-term certainty for the community.

Both large and small operators were approached but smaller chains and independents had showed little interest given challenges in the retail sector, he said.

“We held promising negotiations with one of the national supermarket operators, offering them attractive rents, fit out contributions and incentive periods; but unfortunately, notwithstanding we chased them as hard as we could, they would not enter into an agreement for a lease. This was a big blow to both us and the local community,” Mr Nikias said.

”The development as it stands without the anchor supermarket tenant is not a feasible option to pursue at this time, to our great disappointment. We will be exploring other options for the site and we will notify the community once we have more clarity on its future use.”

Sales office

The sales office for the residential development.

Mr Nikias said the developer would be respectful and mindful of the needs of the community when considering alternative arrangements for the site.

“We will, of course, engage with the community again on any future proposals, and we will continue to pursue a national supermarket operator as the current circumstances have demonstrated to them how vital they are to the local community,” he said.

”We understand that many people will feel disappointed. We thank the Giralang Residents’ Action Group, local businesses, school community leaders and AMC Architecture for their efforts in not only engaging in the consultation for the development but also for their constant support in trying to secure the supermarket operator.”

The proposal included a 1000 square metre supermarket, other ground floor retail and 50 apartments, as well as seeking lease changes to allow community uses such as a child care centre, community centre and place of worship.

The shops lay abandoned for many years as a long legal battle ensued, going all the way to the High Court before Nikias Diamond lodged its DA in April 2018.

But it struggled to find tenants and even its sales forecast for the apartment side of the project was down, according to an update from May 2019.

Then there had been high hopes for a medical practice, chemist, restaurant, café/coffee shop and gym to be signed up, but the supermarket remained elusive.

A render from the DA of the Giralang shops proposal. Image: Supplied.

Belconnen Community Council chair Glen Hyde said the situation was heartbreaking but not unexpected.

Mr Hyde said the owner and developer may now decide to turn the site over completely to residential use.

He said competition from nearby Kaleen may have deterred supermarket operators such as Coles or Woolworths but he did not believe the 1000 square metre size was the problem.

”If you look at some of the other anchor tenants in some of the other shopping centres, it wouldn’t be the smallest by a long way,” Mr Hyde said.

“It’s about the appetite for the community to shop locally and it worries me that it’s not quite there.”

He said it was a question of how badly the community wanted it and what they were prepared to do to help the owner and the developer secure a tenant.

“It breaks your heart when you see a facility like that that does have so much potential fall over again,” Mr Hyde said.

”It may just be the influence of COVID-19 because I can’t imagine that Coles or Woolies would have just given up the ghost based on size alone.”

But the Giralang Residents Action Group said size did matter and the government had let the community down again.

”The arbitrary limit applied to Giralang to limit supermarket size has been a major factor in this failure,” it said.

”We are extremely disappointed that at a time when supporting each other and communities is more important than ever, the Giralang and wider community have been let down once again.

”It is a pity the ACT Government has never been able to help the community renew our shopping centre. The arbitrary limit applied to Giralang to limit supermarket size has been a major factor in this failure.”

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25 Responses to Giralang shops development on ropes without supermarket tenant
Risible2 Risible2 3:31 pm 22 Apr 20

It’s a pity the Giralang shops were demolished at a time that local shops were losing custom to big supermarkets, along with the introduction of ALDI in group centres and Costco at the airport. Many small local shops, like Macgregor, Aranda, Cook and Higgins have managed to survive by focussing on businesses their neighbourhood will support. Coffee shops have thrived – until now. Lets hope they bounce back after the restrictions are lifted.

    JC JC 6:43 pm 24 Apr 20

    Macgrgeor shops got bulldozed years ago replaced with a swimming centre.

Arthur Arthur 10:17 am 16 Apr 20

Suzanne Orr is a qualified town planner. Oops!

Arthur Arthur 10:15 am 16 Apr 20

The site is a death trap and another example of Worksafe failure to protect the public. Just look at the fences and thats only a start.
Reduce rates for local residents.
Turn the land into a park.
Landowner to forfeit capital gains on immediate sale.
That’s the only way to deal with land speculation.

Siobhan Gibbons Siobhan Gibbons 10:19 pm 15 Apr 20


Damien Bills Damien Bills 8:05 pm 15 Apr 20

Daniel Eden still haven’t fixed the shops up. 😂

Brett Goyne Brett Goyne 7:56 pm 15 Apr 20

the ACT Government should use its right to cease the lease, compensate the lessee, and post corona recovery, auction the block for shops, cafe, restaurants, and professional offices. Quicker and more transparent.

Maria O'Halloran Maria O'Halloran 7:22 pm 15 Apr 20

This is what the developers wanted in the first place. If it hadn’t taken over 10 years to come to some arrangement they may have secured some kind of supermarket, I think it’s way too late now😞

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:31 pm 15 Apr 20

    Maria O'Halloran and didn’t they main opponent of this project win big time when they sold their supermarket just down the road to Coles.

    Blake Morling Blake Morling 12:28 am 16 Apr 20

    I bet they ask for a land use variation and put up medium density units...

James Strang James Strang 7:16 pm 15 Apr 20

We used to joke our toddlers would be finished at Giralang Primary before anything happened with the shop site. It's now virtually guaranteed with one in high school and the other in year 5.

Natasha Hill Natasha Hill 7:14 pm 15 Apr 20

Should look at zero waste supermarket options.

Too close to Coles to compete. Why not look at an option that compliments instead.

    Owen Ferris Owen Ferris 7:48 pm 17 Apr 20

    I know Aldi like to be in close proximity to a major competitor (eg Coles or Woolworths), but I really think they could do well in Giralang. We are fairly well removed from their stores in Casey, Dickson and Jamison.

    Natasha Hill Natasha Hill 8:41 pm 17 Apr 20

    Owen Ferris

    I'm pretty sure they already approached Aldi.

    Also, I'm not a fan of big chain stores in beautiful little leafy suburbs like Giralang.

    Just my opinion 👌😀

Ian Gay Ian Gay 6:50 pm 15 Apr 20

Nikias should hand back the lease, and bugger off.

Owen Ferris Owen Ferris 6:35 pm 15 Apr 20

What an absolute joke! Nikias Diamond will now fill the site with units and the hopeless ACT Government will sit idly by.

    Deb Meuronen Deb Meuronen 6:57 pm 15 Apr 20

    Looks like Nikias has got what they wanted all along- appartments and no shops 😤

    Dave Kirwan Dave Kirwan 6:57 pm 15 Apr 20

    Chris Cross well, my understanding is that they're the owner of a LEASE. As such, the ACT Govt DO have a say.

    That's the difficulty with all these old shops complexes, and its playing out all across town.

    Owen Ferris Owen Ferris 7:28 pm 15 Apr 20

    Chris Cross Wake up, buddy. It was always Plan A.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:29 pm 15 Apr 20

    Dave Kirwan they have say in how the land is used. What they cannot do is conjure up a supermarket willing to sign up.

    Whilst not quite the same it’s the same basic issue at Coombs. The difference is I think the Giralang developer wants a tenant but cannot get one and until such time as one signs up they won’t start building. In the case of Coombs the building, of you call it that, looks more like a poorly built shack is compete.

    Brett Goyne Brett Goyne 7:57 pm 15 Apr 20

    Owen Ferris agree 100%

    Brett Goyne Brett Goyne 7:31 pm 17 Apr 20

    Chris Cross the lessees have played a game with this for over 13 years, time for an auction of the site

    Brett Goyne Brett Goyne 7:32 pm 17 Apr 20

    Ashley Wright no, they haven't really marketed the units, as they were overpriced and there's a glut in Belconnen, they want to sit on a prime site

    Owen Ferris Owen Ferris 7:41 pm 17 Apr 20

    Dave Kirwan Have a look at some of the shopping developments in older suburbs - eg Ainslie Shops, Campbell Shops. These were developments that people said wouldn't be viable. The Giralang saga has been a blight on numerous Governments, but in the end it comes down to greed and power. Years of mismanagement on the part of Government. Years of litigation on the part of smaller nearby supermarkets whose legal bills were being paid by a Kaleen lessee with eyes on the selfish endgame. It's time we put to rest the apologists who are also on this thread and tackled the root of the problem.

Alan Rose Alan Rose 6:28 pm 15 Apr 20

Same as the Coombs shops

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