It appears the stalled second stage of the Manuka Hotel project is about to be kickstarted into life, with workers on site preparing for the demolition of the Capitol Theatre building.
The completed six-storey, 58-room first stage of the project has sat empty while haggling over design aspects of Stage 2, and the Lease Variation Charge cast doubt over whether it would ever proceed.
The planning authority approved the Liangis Group’s proposal for a six-storey building with 120 rooms, a ballroom, dining and bar facilities, a multiplex with five cinemas, ground floor shops and a restaurant in July 2021, along with a number of conditions and the need for the lease to be varied.
Mediation in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal followed, and although some of the approval conditions were varied in February last year and a dispute about a Manuka Circle entrance was resolved, the LVC row simmered.
In January this year, developer Sotiria Liangis unloaded on the planning authority for strangling the project in red tape with one delay after another and criticised the amount of LVC being levied.
A breakthrough seemed apparent when, on 27 September, the planning authority told Region that the proponent had lodged an amendment to the variation of the Crown lease, which had been assessed and then approved on 29 June.
It said the Liangis Group was notified on 25 September of the LVC that would be payable.
“The lease variation can be registered once the LVC is paid or entered into a deferred payment arrangement,” the planning authority said.
However, the planning authority could not say if this meant there had been changes to the project or whether the LVC was a lesser amount than originally charged.
No new development application or amended DA has been lodged.
Attempts to clarify the situation with Mrs Liangis have proved futile, but workers at the site on Tuesday said she had got the project over the line.
They did not know when the full demolition of the building would start, but work to ready the building was taking place inside.
A truck was observed reversing into a hole in the Canberra Avenue side of the building.
A sign on the fencing warns that demolition work is in progress.
The Liangis Group has three years to commence the development from when the approval took effect and three years to complete the development once it commenced.
The development’s progress has been keenly followed over the years as it will play a key role in revitalising Manuka as a premium shopping and hospitality precinct.
The Capitol Theatre cinemas closed their doors at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.