11 November 2020

Liangis family unveils plans for next stage of Manuka hotel project

| Ian Bushnell
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Artist's impression of the development

An artist’s impression of the proposal from Franklin Street. Images: Stewart Architecture.

Prominent Canberra property developer Liangis Investments, owned by the Liangis family, has released its plans for the second stage of its multi-million dollar Manuka hotel development on the Capitol cinema site on Franklin Street and Manuka Circle.

Construction of the first stage – on the gateway corner of Franklin Street, Flinders Way and Manuka Circle – is underway and the family is now conducting public consultation on the next stage before it lodges a development application.

The plans for Blocks 1, 2 and 5 Section 96 include a six-storey building with ground floor lobbies for the hotel and a five-cinema multiplex, and 120 hotel rooms over four upper levels.

A ground-floor commercial tenancy and hotel restaurant that links to Franklin Street is also planned.

On the first floor, there will be meeting spaces and the Liangis Ballroom, and guest amenities including lounge, dining and bar facilities.

A swimming pool for hotel guests is planned on the second floor.

Parking will be provided in a basement car park, and there will be streetscape upgrades that the family says will improve the public realm along Manuka Circle including soft landscaping and pavement works.

The plans also show a roof deck green space with trees and other plantings.

The family believes a high-quality hotel will help rejuvenate the Manuka Group Centre and celebrate the prominent location along Manuka Circle.

The site is located opposite commercial and retail offerings within Manuka’s retail and entertainment precinct and is also opposite Manuka Oval and with frontage to St Christopher’s Cathedral to the west along Furneaux Street.

The development application will include the demolition of the cinema building, construction of a new building including basement, site works and a Crown lease variation to add the uses proposed for the development.

Once complete, Stage 1 and 2 are intended to operate as a single development.

Manuka Circle

The proposal seen from Manuka Circle.

Stage 1 was finally approved late last year after a protracted battle over a registered plane tree that had grown up between the Capitol Theatre building and its neighbour. After mediation in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, it was agreed the tree could go if the family supported local Landcare groups and included a ‘green’ wall in the hotel project.

The Inner-South Business Council said at the time that the outcome was a victory for the Manuka Group Centre, local businesses, residents, and the local hotel and hospitality industry.

“This project will go a long way in further developing the character of the Manuka Group Centre. It will expand the customer base for local businesses, create jobs, and help to revitalise Manuka back to its former glory,” said chair John-Paul Romano.

“This outcome means more customers for Manuka businesses; it means that empty commercial spaces will be filled, and that the area will become more vibrant and its character will further develop.”

The Capitol Theatre

The Capitol Theatre building on Manuka Circle is on a prime site. Photo: File.

Stage 1, designed by Cox Architecture, will have 58 rooms over five levels and include a basement carpark, ground-level lobby and hotel reception, café/restaurant and back-of-house areas.

The developer has appeared to switch architects for Stage 2, with locally based Stewart Architecture supplying the illustrations and drawings for the pre-DA consultation.

The pre-DA information says the proposed building and development across Section 96 has been designed in accordance with the Territory Plan and National Capital Authority planning controls to create a development outcome that acknowledges the architectural character of early Manuka.

The historic Capitol Cinemas formally shut their doors on 15 May at the end of its lease but they had been closed since the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions.

A virtual consultation session including a Q&A will be conducted on 18 November, with the consultation period running until 2 December. To register go to the project website.

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Government-employed inspectors can’t come quickly enough.

I wonder how soon this new development will start falling apart? Will the plumbing be up to scratch at the time it’s handed over, or will those rush jobs done by unsupervised apprentices be uncovered over the first five years as pipes fail and destroy internal walls and flooring? Will the garage drain into the sump or the other way around?

Developers get away with some truly dodgy nonsense here in Canberra.

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