The long-running Giralang shops saga appears finally over with a new developer taking on the stalled project and promising to have the centre up and running by the middle of 2024.
TP Dynamics, which is developing the Coles shops at Dickson, will now take charge of the project, which will include a supermarket up to 1000 square metres, and establishment of the site will start in the next two weeks with construction to follow.
TPD will proceed under the approved development application without any changes to the proposal, which also includes a residential component.
The site has an approved development application (DA) in place and TPD will build the complex without change to the DA.
Construction will be completed in about 18 months, with retail tenants and residents moving in soon after. Marketing for the residential portion will start in the coming months.
The previous owner was forced to call a halt to construction late last year because it could not finance the project without securing an anchor supermarket tenant.
TPD is in talks with prospective supermarket operators and a cafe is a priority tenant to secure.
The Nikias family has been connected to the site since 1975 and Nikias Diamond said last December that it remained committed to the $19 million development proposal that also includes mixed-use ground floor spaces, basement parking and 50 apartments over four levels.
Now Giralang Property Pty Ltd has brokered the deal with TPD to purchase the site and take over the development.
Director of Giralang Property Pty Ltd Dimitri Nikias said the sale to TPD was the right outcome to deliver the local shops as soon as possible.
“This delivers certainty to the local community as well as enhancements to the surrounding public realm,” he said.
“The development will be completed as per the approved precinct plan including reconfiguration and improvement of the school drop off zone on Atalumba Close, bicycle storage shelter, new parking and increased access to the Giralang Nature Playground on Menkar Close, and increased pedestrian accessibility to the shopping centre from Canopus Crescent.”
Director of TPD Tony Pan said the development was a natural fit for their business, adding to a suite of properties under construction in northern Canberra.
“We have close ties to Canberra’s north with our head office in Bruce, a mixed-use development currently under way in Dickson (the new Dickson Village including Coles), and residential developments at Yowani Golf Club and Bruce.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity and we look forward to delivering a vibrant local shops precinct for the Giralang community.”
For the Giralang Residents Action Group, the announcement is the end of a “17-year-old nightmare”.
Group communications director Sarah Toaldo said the development would give the area a beating heart again, especially important when more people were working from home due to COVID and needed local services.
“It means we’ve got a pace to gather, a place to connect,” she said.
“It means that when we want bread, milk, simple things, I can walk to the shops, I don’t have to hop in the car and go to the next suburb.
“We can run into people in our own community. It’s really important to have that heart of the suburb and it’s not until it’s been ripped out that you realise how important it is and how much it’s been missed.”
Ms Toaldo said that property values in the area had also taken a hit because there wasn’t a local shopping centre, with a real estate agent saying her home was losing $100,000.
Mr Nikias said it meant a lot to the family to see its vision for the local community fulfilled, albeit in different hands.
“As a family-owned local Canberra company, TPD shares our commitment to Giralang and they will deliver the vision we set out to achieve so many years ago,” he said.
“We thank Giralang residents for their patience and insights along the way and we know they will be as pleased as we are that we have been able to find a solution to the impasse created by forces beyond our control.”
Mr Nikias also thanked Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Chief Planner Ben Ponton for their support and ongoing commitment to achieving the right outcome for the Giralang community.
“Tony and the TPD team will deliver an exceptional outcome for Giralang,” Mr Nikias said.
TPD will construct off-street worker parking from Menkar Close, augmenting parking onsite within the basement portion of the project which has already been constructed.
All construction traffic will enter the site via Menkar Close, leaving Atalumba Close unaffected.
The Giralang shops site has been the subject of five DAs, lengthy court battles, an Assembly committee inquiry and viability issues, mainly due to the imitation on the size of the supermarket and the inability to secure an operator.
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman used his call-in powers in 2018 to approve the latest DA in a bid to get the project moving.