2 November 2023

New $150 million office development at Constitution Place precinct

| Ian Bushnell
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Artists impression of the proposed office block for the corner of Constitution Avenue and Vernon Circle in the city. Images: Capital Property Group.

The Canberra Airport’s property arm will build a state-of-the art $150 million carbon neutral office development in the city centre on an ACT Government block of land it has bought for $17.75 million.

Capital Property Group will deliver a six-level, 14,000 sqm commercial building on the corner of Vernon Circle and Constitution Avenue, complementing its award-winning Constitution Place precinct.

The 2743 sqm site is also next to the Canberra Theatre, which will be undergoing redevelopment in coming years, and near the Legislative Assembly.

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Capital Property Group CEO Stephen Byron said the new building would achieve high sustainability, including rooftop solar, no gas and a 100 per cent electric operation, and a hybrid timber construction.

“This will be a building that will operate as a carbon zero building in operation, and we think that’s part of the key difference why we’re going to attract tenants,” he said.

“Government and business want to be part of the new way in which we work and leave our footprint on the world.”

block of land

The site in the city. The land sold for $17.75 million. Photo: City Renewal Authority.

Mr Byron said the building would aim for WELL Gold-rated Shell and Core and a 5-star NABERS energy rating, including a 99 kW roof-mounted solar array.

He said the hybrid timber construction meant part of the building structure and fabric was built from sustainable timber, further reducing the building’s carbon footprint.

Mr Byron was confident the demand was there for new office space despite more staff working from home, saying the greater risk was higher interest rates and costs, one reason why he was keen to make a start on construction as early as March next year, with completion in the second half of 2026.

He said significant corporate clients were already showing interest in the building, which would be able to house about 1000 staff.

“Businesses are interested in getting their teams back to work and workplaces to work collaboratively. You do that by offering the best quality workplace in terms of fit,” he said.

“I think people who are coming into work do want a flexibility in how they come to work and what they get when they arrive there. So we’ll have the best quality end-of-trip facilities in Canberra.”

The ground floor would also offer retail and hospitality tenancies, and a two-level basement would add a further 86 car parks to the precinct.

An aerial view of the development showing how it will fit into the existing precinct.

The same architects and builder – Bates Smart architects and Construction Control – who designed and built Constitution Place would also deliver the new development.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the project was the next step in the renewal of the city centre and the sale was a good result for the Territory.

He said Capital Property Group would deliver a really innovative building that would complement the existing precinct, and the planned cultural district.

“The outcome in the end is a really good integrated precinct,” he said.

“This is a high-quality and sustainable development that will further enliven the world-class civic and culture district planned for the city centre.”

Mr Byron said the company was very excited that the building will join the Canberra Theatre precinct.

“They’re not just our neighbours, they are partners in building this precinct. We’re very excited by their project as well,” he said.

The sale was completed through a competitive tender process with the ACT Government via the City Renewal Authority. JLL ACT managed the land sale.

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CRA CEO Malcolm Snow said when the site was released that any development would need to be of architectural excellence with uses that would be the right fit for the overarching idea of the cultural district.

“It’s a really critical site for a couple of reasons,” Mr Snow said.

“Not only because of its prominence on the corner of Constitution and Vernon, but it will be a development which we think can make an important contribution to our planning and urban design work on the concept for a city centre cultural district within which this site sits.”

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