23 May 2018

Greens line up against high rise hotel on Garema Place

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

Geocon’s plans for a five-star high-rise hotel in Garema Place have struck opposition from the ACT Greens due to overshadowing concerns and potential impacts on entertainment venues and nightlife in the city.

The Greens have again called for designated entertainment precincts in the town centres and Civic.

But Geocon has rejected the concerns, saying the development will add to entertainment options and nightlife in the city, and that Garema Place will get enough sunshine, particularly in the winter.

Geocon lodged a development application in May for the 16-storey, 50 metre high hotel between Garema Place and Bunda Street, which the Greens say will be almost as tall as the QT Hotel, and taller sections of The Canberra Hospital.

Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur said the proposed building on the north side of Garema Place would see the open space largely shaded from before 9 am until after 11 am during winter.

“This raises the question – do we want a dark, cold, overshadowed city centre like the worst parts of Sydney CBD, or a sunny, enjoyable place to spend time? The Greens believe this is not a suitable site, given the height of the proposed development and potential for significant overshadowing,” Ms Le Couteur said.

Government Minister and ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury said entertainment venues in the area faced the possibility of noise complaints from the hotel.

“Garema Place and Bunda Street are thriving night spots. The Greens want to see noise attenuation measures in place, so we can limit the risk of noise complaints in the area. This insulation would mean that Garema Place and Bunda Street can continue to be the noisy heart of Canberra’s nightlife,” Mr Rattenbury said.

Ms Le Couteur said this proposal and others in the city was why the Greens had been pushing for the Government to create designated entertainment precincts in our planning zones to help settle some of these issues.

“This should be a priority, particularly given this hotel proposal and the rate of new apartment blocks going up around the city,” she said.

A Geocon spokesperson said the new world-class hotel in Garema Place would deliver more entertainment and night-time activities including bars, eateries and a signature restaurant of the like Canberra’s hasn’t seen before, as well as vastly increasing the vibrancy and foot traffic to the area of 400 to 600 guests daily plus several hundred staff coming and going, day and night.

“A brand-new luxury hotel experience at Garema Place will embrace this location’s potential for vibrancy and activation at all hours of the day and night, and boost the surrounding businesses by attracting guests and visitors,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said there would be direct sunlight in Garema Place at all times of the day, and the plans met the legislative criteria to ensure areas remain substantially sunlit, particularly between 12 noon and 2pm on the winter solstice (21 June).

“We have commissioned world-renowned Fender Katsalidis Architects, who created the NewActon precinct and the Nishi building, to bring to life our vision of a sculptural icon that will define the heart of the city, and, we will introduce a bold, new hotel brand to Canberra that will reflect the city’s status as Australia’s national capital,” the spokesperson said.


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HiddenDragon5:42 pm 25 May 18

With the Grenfell Tower Inquiry now under way in London, I do hope that ACT Fire & Rescue has been, and will continue to be, properly resourced with all the equipment and training required to deal with fires and other emergencies which might occur in the towers which are now proliferating throughout Canberra.

No. This thing will suck up the sunshine in winter. It’s dark enough without this thing casting a huge shadow at dusk and dawn. Down below, pedestrians will find their world darker and colder. After rain, patches of ice will form in the lower temperatures.

And in summer, when the sun is high during the middle of the day, reflected light and heat will make Garema Place less habitable.

Whatever happened to Canberra, where everyone got a fair share of natural resources?

Doesn’t it take until 11am for the cloud and fog to burn off in the winter anyway?

Not that I think anything out to be done with Garema Place and City Walk other than demolish it and make them streets again. Or maybe put the railway station back there in the middle of the street (which is where it actually used to be circa 1920-1922 before a flood took out the bridge over what’s now a lake anyway). The chuggers, and the vagrants, and that moron that feeds the pigeons daily, make it a cesspool.

It’s very cold in the shade in winter.

That may be true, but how many people spend a significant amount of time in Garema Place during the times when shading would occur? I would say that the benefits of bringing a 5 star hotel right to the doorstep of most of Civic’s businesses, plus the opportunity to revamp the surrounding area, would outweigh that issue.

Capital Retro2:33 pm 25 May 18

I don’t think people who can afford a 5 star hotel would want to roll with the Garema Place vibe.

Really cannot understand such ardent criticism of this development. What exactly is this proposal going to detract from? Garema Place, in its current state, is frankly embarrassing. It isn’t a place that anyone wants to be. It only ever comes to life during events like the Multicultural Festival or the Winter Festival, and at night when the bars open (and those aren’t going to magically close down because a 16 story hotel opens). The rest of the time its either just a lunchtime thoroughfare, or a deserted wasteland. Furthermore, a 16 story development can hardly draw comparisons with Sydney or Melbourne; buildings there can be upwards of 50 stories, hence they do cause significant shadowing and wind-tunnel effects.

I’m surprised Geocon thought they could sneak this one through. A proposal for 16 storeys in that location was just asking for trouble.

Capital Retro11:55 am 24 May 18

The Greens have to appear “green” but at the end of the day the unions will support The Greens with electoral donations and the unions need their members to have jobs so they will tell the ACT government to approve it.

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