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Gus’ to be demolished and rebuilt as part of Geocon’s Garema Place hotel

Lachlan Roberts 18 October 2019 112
Gus' cafe in Garema Place

Geocon plans to raze and then rebuild Gus’. Photo: Michelle Kroll, Region Media.

The iconic and much-loved Gus’ cafe on Bunda Street may soon be demolished and then rebuilt as development company Geocon revealed its plans for the cafe as part of its $120 million luxury hotel in Garema Place.

ACT Heritage Council chair David Flannery said that the council was approached several months ago by Geocon to consider their proposal, and they have since approved the plans for an 11-storey, 215 room hotel which are currently under consideration by the Planning Directorate.

Mr Flannery said the council did not want to turn Canberra into a “heritage museum where nothing can change”, stating that the council is willing to work with owners and their architects to make appropriate alterations.

“The fabric of the existing building is not what is holding the heritage significance and heritage value,” Mr Flannery told Region Media. “The proponent is wanting to have an outdoor seating area which is the main intrinsic feature of the place.

“We are not too perturbed that the original fabric will be lost but we are delighted that a replacement cafe will be put in that location.”

Mr Flannery said that Geocon had agreed to the council’s request to keep the name and plaque in the new venue.

Artist's impression of the proposed hotel

Geocon’s proposed Canberra City Luxury Hotel development on Garema Place. Image: Geocon.

“They have agreed to take up the plaque in the pavement and protect it during the construction of the new works and then reinstall it in the same or similar location on completion,” Mr Flannery said.

“We don’t have control of what they call it but we have expressed the desire that the name Gus continue but we can’t put a heritage listing on the name.”

The ACT Heritage Council has also asked Geocon for the new venue to have either murals, photographs or drawings to tell the story of the cafe and how it inspired outdoor dining in Canberra.

Geocon bought the Garema Centre building at 70 Bunda Street in September 2017 for $13.35 million and has made three applications to build a luxury hotel in Garema Place. Geocon submitted its third application in May, this time incorporating an adjacent block and the iconic Gus’ cafe.

In a statement, Geocon said it was committed to reinstating Gus’ as one of the alfresco eateries on the ground floor as part of the new build.

“We are fully aware of its cultural significance to Canberra and its inclusion has been considered carefully,” the statement read. “Gus’ will have the same character, look and feel but it won’t be a carbon copy.”

Gus’, which was first opened in 1967 by Gus Petersilka, was heritage-listed in 2011 before undergoing a major refurbishment in 2017. The cafe has become a mainstay in the Canberra hospitality scene and it was the first Canberra cafe to introduce outdoor dining back in the 70s.


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112 Responses to Gus’ to be demolished and rebuilt as part of Geocon’s Garema Place hotel
rossau rossau 12:53 am 26 Oct 19

This is not the city I wanted it to be.
Growth + Sustainabilty = lost of access to my city

Sam Chard Sam Chard 10:02 pm 21 Oct 19

The real tragedy is the appalling food and service since it changed hands.

planet42 planet42 8:26 pm 20 Oct 19

At 11 storeys, Garema Place will be in shadow in the middle of winter. What a cold miserable place it will be, even on sunny days.

Tess Stirling Tess Stirling 7:21 pm 20 Oct 19

Broni Sargeson gentrification everywhere my dude

Beck Bianco Beck Bianco 9:19 am 20 Oct 19

A hotel right in the middle of the night club district what could go wrong?

Damaris Wilson Damaris Wilson 3:52 pm 19 Oct 19

We have so little that is heritage in Canberra - don't destroy what's left!

Trace Jiggins Trace Jiggins 11:49 am 19 Oct 19

Seriously 😡 Geocon seems to get away with murder...the beauty & history of our lovely city is diminishing by the minute 😢

    Pete Martin Pete Martin 7:26 pm 19 Oct 19

    agreed just look at the cotter and what use to be out that way, No more trees. All theses people protesting climate change yet the dozers roll on over at Whitlam. We just to have water in lake George, till they 'upgraded' the road, we all suffered with hotter and dryer summers took the trees from that area in 2003 . I wonder what these new shake and bake suburbs will do to our bush capital climate.

Acton Acton 9:27 am 19 Oct 19

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away a labor government listened to the people not property developers, protected not destroyed heritage, appreciated didn’t bulldoze green spaces. But then a new generation grew up, complacent and lazy, uncaring and ignorant of the past heritage battles against greed. And the new generation kept voting in Barr.

    Ron Norton Ron Norton 11:55 am 25 Oct 19

    And the so-called Greens who are so keen on preserving trees that they allowed more than 100 to be cut down on what was once beautiful Nortbourne Avenue to make way for their pet project, ‘light rail’.

Jim Carpenter Jim Carpenter 8:47 am 19 Oct 19

The new ACT government is Geocon!!! Congratulations

Moira Nelson Moira Nelson 8:36 am 19 Oct 19

No not more hotels

Experience Eats Experience Eats 8:15 am 19 Oct 19

But what about I❤️Pho

Carolyn Burton Carolyn Burton 8:00 am 19 Oct 19

I thought heritage listing protected things from being demolished

    Louise Raisin Louise Raisin 8:47 am 19 Oct 19

    Carolyn Burton yes me too but this government seems to be for development at all costs☹️

Geoff Withers Geoff Withers 6:01 am 19 Oct 19

The cafe is nothing like the original in the first place, doesn't matter if you like or don't like the food. It has changed over the years like everything else. Build the hotel, create jobs, put the cafe back as proposed.

Frank Koch Frank Koch 2:56 am 19 Oct 19

Life goes on

Audrey Orr Audrey Orr 12:12 am 19 Oct 19

Awesome, more construction in civic! Can’t wait....

Dianne Davey Dianne Davey 12:00 am 19 Oct 19

Goecon seem to get all the good sights makes me wonder how they are always seem to win tenders so sad to see Gus legacy trashed for big developers

Anna Francesca Clancy Anna Francesca Clancy 11:50 pm 18 Oct 19

Seriously it feels like Geocon owns Canberra at the moment. They are everywhere. Makes me think they are getting cheap deals???

Sharon Hunter Sharon Hunter 10:28 pm 18 Oct 19

Heritage listed. Is that meaningless now....

    Steve Kenihan Steve Kenihan 3:45 am 19 Oct 19

    Sharon Hunter yes, since those rubbish little flats on Northbourne Ave were heritage listed

Jason Weber Jason Weber 10:19 pm 18 Oct 19

So... what does “heritage listed” actually then mean in Canberra if it can just be demolished anyway?

Jane Sage Jane Sage 9:22 pm 18 Oct 19

I thought buildings that were heritage listed couldn't be developed? Isn't that the point of heritage listing?

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