12 February 2018

NCA puts historic Lobby Restaurant on the market

| Ian Bushnell
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The fenced off Lobby Restaurant is on the market. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The National Capital Authority has confirmed that the historic Lobby Restaurant on King George Terrace in Parkes is to be sold, four months after The RiotACT first reported that it was preparing the property for sale.

The NCA opened Expressions of Interest on Saturday (10 February), with Civium Property Group managing the sale and the tender closing on 15 March.

The Lobby comprises a restaurant and kiosk, although the NCA has said the latter, which was a recent addition to the property, could be demolished by the buyer if needed.

NCA Chief Planner Andrew Smith said the sale was an opportunity for the private sector to reinvigorate a much-loved Canberra landmark with a 50-year history.

“We’re eager to see a revitalisation of the space, which has the potential to continue to be a successful establishment in one of Canberra’s most prominent locations,” he said.

The NCA believes it could continue as a restaurant but also as a convention centre or meeting place.

The Lobby is not heritage-listed but the NCA said that it was part of the Commonwealth Heritage-listed Parliament House Vista, and its heritage values had been assessed and would be protected once the property was sold.

“Once sold, the NCA and the Commonwealth will remain committed to protecting and preserving the heritage values of The Lobby as well as the Commonwealth Heritage-listed landscape which it forms part of,” Mr Smith said.

The NCA said the divestment of Commonwealth assets was not new in Canberra, with others including the former Hotel Canberra which is now the Hyatt Hotel Canberra, the previous Barton Cafeteria now the Ottoman Restaurant, and Hotel Acton, which is now the centre of the bustling NewActon Precinct.

More recently, nearby East and West Blocks in Parkes were sold late last year to developers Amalgamated Property Group (APG) and Geocon respectively, with Geocon planning to repurpose West Block as a luxury heritage hotel.

APG also bought Anzac Park East and the adjacent cafeteria site, with Anzac Park West going to EG Funds Management. The five sites in the Parliamentary Triangle sold for a total of $128.75 million.

The Lobby has been vacant for more than a year after the previous business owner closed the premises and auctioned off its assets, following a dispute with the NCA.

The NCA said any development of the property would still be subject to Parliamentary approval.

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Historic ? If this is the case so is my house. They were both built around the same time.

“Historic” is more than just age. Is your house this well known?

The Lobby was on borrowed time as soon as NPH opened in 1988. It was no longer opposite Parliament House and the politicians could no longer walk across the road to power lunch there.

With the politicians gone, it had to rely on tourists and clearly that wasn’t sustainable.

I can’t see it being a viable restaurant anymore. Maybe the tent embassy could turn it into an Indigenous museum/cultural centre but since we already have one of those on Lady Denman Drive it seems that a bit of thinking outside the square is required to turn it into a going concern again.

Capital Retro7:58 am 15 Feb 18

According to public ASIC records, there is a registered business name “The Lobby”.
Business names are not address specific.

I’m sure aboriginal organisations are welcome to put in a bid. Turning it into a combination restaurant/meeting place/etc would seem reasonable.

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