Plan to refurbish Woden’s Lovett Tower for 300 units

Ian Bushnell 15 July 2021 27
Lovett Tower

Lovett Tower in Woden is no longer attractive to government departments, says the owner. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Woden’s landmark but mothballed Lovett Tower will be refurbished to accommodate a mix of uses including a total of 300 serviced apartments and smaller units for students under a proposal from its owner Brite Developments.

The 26-storey, 93-metre tall Lovett Tower was Canberra’s tallest building until Geocon’s High Society recently eclipsed it in Belconnen.

Lovett Tower has previously been occupied by Commonwealth government departments including Veterans’ Affairs, Environment, and Prime Minister and Cabinet.

But Brite says on its pre-DA website outlining its plans that the building has endured high vacancy rates during the past five years, with government tenants attracted to new purpose-built facilities at other locations.

With demand for large-scale office tenancies in Woden diminishing, Brite wants to adapt the 46-year-old building on the edge of Woden Town Square to a mix of new uses including commercial, retail and residential.

This will also mean more parking than the limited basement area of only 17 spaces.

READ ALSO: “It was bedlam”: former police officer recalls the night seven people died in the Woden flood

Brite intends to retain and expand retail tenancies at ground level and add commercial space at the mezzanine level.

It plans 184 commercial serviced apartments at mid to high levels of the building, including 50 at “premium” or luxury standard, as well as 116 units for students, with the new CIT being built on the current interchange in mind.

”With the site for the new CIT campus within close proximity to Lovett Tower, the proposed student accommodation provides the opportunity to contribute to the range and diversity of housing within the town centre,” Brite says.

Ground floor plan

The ground floor plan showing the new entry and exit ramps. Image: Brite Developments.

It says the physical relationship between Lovett Tower and the town square will be improved by providing a lobby entrance to the east of the building, facing the square, with the addition of new awnings to cover pedestrian walkways around three sides of the building.

The existing basement parking spaces will be retained for loading and building services, but Brite plans to retrofit five parking levels within the building to provide 86 additional car spaces.

It says unroofed access ramps will be constructed on the western side of the building, away from the town square, extending beyond the building’s existing footprint.

This will require approval for a lease variation and the purchase of additional land over an existing services corridor.

Brite also plans to relocate a fire booster cupboard to allow firefighters direct access to Lovett Tower from Keltie Street, and the relocation of waste collection facilities to comply with current requirements.

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Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick said more information was needed to assess the proposal properly, but the council is concerned about the continued loss of jobs in the Town Centre and the proliferation of residential apartments in Woden’s core area.

”While we support the urban infill policy, with over 25 residential towers earmarked in the town centre to date, it is not clear that residential apartments on the perimeter of the town square are the best option because residents often complain about music,” she said.

Ms Carrick said the ACT Government’s 2019 Entertainment Action Plan noted the need to designate specific areas and precincts in the ACT as entertainment zones, but in Woden, over-development was putting at risk opportunities to create an active hub in the heart of Woden.

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She welcomed the extra retail space and the planned student accommodation but the proposal appeared to provide very small rooms.

Ms Carrick said the parking proposal only reinforced the need for a parking plan in the Town Centre.

”Parking should be fed out to the major surrounding roads so the roads internal to the Town Centre are shared for walking and cycling around active fronts,” she said.

”Using four or five floors of residents’ parking at the lower end of a building does not bring activity to the Town Square for the whole community.”

Community consultation will run between Friday, 29 January until Friday, 12 February, with drop-in sessions in the Lovett Tower ground floor lobby at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm on 3 February and 4:00 pm and 6:30 pm on 10 February.

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27 Responses to Plan to refurbish Woden’s Lovett Tower for 300 units
Mat Barber Mat Barber 6:26 pm 25 Jan 21

Good it's an eyesore now

    Scott Humphries Scott Humphries 10:57 am 26 Jan 21

    It's one of my favourite buildings in Canberra.

Donna Burns Donna Burns 6:29 pm 25 Jan 21

Trevor Wilkins is this a building you remember?

    Trevor Wilkins Trevor Wilkins 8:30 pm 25 Jan 21

    haha! Thats not a name I remember and I visited a lot of buildings in Woden. I'll ask my friend who worked in Vets Affairs if he knows it.

    Fortress Epiphany Fortress Epiphany 6:17 pm 26 Jan 21

    Trevor Wilkins vets affairs were in there till about 3 years ago.

Matt Frawley Matt Frawley 6:47 pm 25 Jan 21

Sid There you go!

    Sid Schuck Sid Schuck 7:14 pm 25 Jan 21

    Matt Frawley hopefully they get some new cladding. The brutalist architecture needs updating.

Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 7:06 pm 25 Jan 21

Just what we need

Karen Evans Karen Evans 7:13 pm 25 Jan 21

Tony questions answered

Jenny Gordon Avery Jenny Gordon Avery 7:15 pm 25 Jan 21

If they keep the good sized lifts and auto opening doors people like myself who get around in motorised wheelchairs might be able to consider purchasing. I would LOVE to be back on Level 22!

    Robert Knight Robert Knight 4:33 pm 26 Jan 21

    Jenny Gordon Avery it’s a great view up there!

Fiona Hall Fiona Hall 7:16 pm 25 Jan 21

Do you know what Canberra needs more of? More apartments 👍🏻

    Marco Spaccavento Marco Spaccavento 7:17 pm 25 Jan 21

    Fiona Hall Yep, absolutely. Increase supply and help prices ease up.

    Daniel Bryan Daniel Bryan 12:46 am 26 Jan 21

    This, Oaks, A+A, Grand Central, Ivy, and Trilogy definitely bringing more residents into the Woden valley isn't a bad thing. Just hope they don't do any more of there's going to be a huge strain on infrastructure in the area.

Toni Isaacson Toni Isaacson 8:45 pm 25 Jan 21

Not for social housing? Missed opportunity.

    Hamish Lardi Hamish Lardi 10:30 pm 25 Jan 21

    Toni Isaacson I think all developments have to have a number of public housing intermixed between non public housing.

    Karl Hock Karl Hock 7:45 am 26 Jan 21

    Toni Isaacson if the whole thing was housing it woden would become the new crime alley. As Hamish Lardi said they do intermixed now so there is a possibility that a few of them will be housing.

    Margarita Bianchi Margarita Bianchi 7:59 am 26 Jan 21

    Yep if we made it all social housing it would be all crime ?! If we make it all private, it’s just called tax minimisation. Thankfully we add that token 5% social housing to keep the city safe and funded 😉

    Karl Hock Karl Hock 8:19 am 26 Jan 21

    Margarita Bianchi if you look at pasted examples of Canberra housing only apartments and crime is a big big issue. From Stuart Flats to the City they were were all know for very high crime rate.

Glenn Beaumaris Glenn Beaumaris 11:01 pm 25 Jan 21

Commercial and retail spaces. What about the ones in the A&A development which are still empty??

Tristan Wellens Tristan Wellens 11:17 pm 25 Jan 21

Will only rent for about $500 a week per smaller unit 👌🏻

Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:58 am 26 Jan 21

Only 86 internal car parks for 300 units? You have got to be joking.

Nick Claydon Nick Claydon 9:18 am 26 Jan 21

Sam L Oh what a Brilliant idea... great Soviet era aesthetics to capitalise on! :p

    Sam L Oh Sam L Oh 9:22 am 26 Jan 21

    Nick Claydon there's a big market for brutalist architecture

    Nick Claydon Nick Claydon 10:59 am 26 Jan 21

    Sam L Oh it makes the food so tasty!

Archie Mac Archie Mac 3:27 pm 26 Jan 21

It will always be MLC Tower to me.

My family had the cleaning contract. We kids had great fun going up and down in the elevators

Nicole Harrowfield Nicole Harrowfield 1:58 pm 29 Jan 21

Luke Janeczko woden does not need more apartments 😑

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