7 June 2018

Seven-storey, European-style hotel proposed in Manuka makeover

| Ian Bushnell
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The proposed Capitol Hotel is Stage 1 of the redevelopment of Section 96 in Manuka. This illustration includes indicative Stage 2, which will match Stage 1 in height and architecture. Images from the development application.

A European-style, neo-classical seven-storey hotel has been proposed for a prime gateway site in the heart of Manuka, as the first stage of a major redevelopment of the area from the cinema to Flinders Way.

The Liangis family has lodged a development application for Blocks 3 and 4, Section 96 on Franklin Street in Manuka, originally the site of the Manuka Post Office but more recently a café, now vacant.

The 822 square metre site takes in two significant corners – Franklin Street and Flinders Way, which forms a gateway to the Manuka Group Centre café and retail precinct directly abutting the Manuka Cinema site, also owned by the Liangis family, and Flinders Way and Canberra Avenue.

The $11.4 million Capitol Hotel proposal is Stage 1 of a redevelopment of Section 96. The soon to follow Stage 2 extends to Blocks 1, 2 and 5, with the buildings on that site, including the cinema, to be vacated by June 2019 and ready for demolition. Stage 2 is still being designed.

The proposed 58-room hotel, designed by Cox Architecture, will include a basement carpark, ground-level lobby and hotel reception, café/restaurant and back of house areas, five levels of accommodation, external signage and rooftop plant and equipment.

The proposal also includes a new electrical substation, verge works, removal of existing parking and construction of a driveway on Flinders Way, porte cochere and associated offsite works including paving and planting.

The development will be along the lines of Le Grand Hotel, Paris.

The hotel will cover the entire site.

A registered tree is proposed to make way for the substation, although the proponents have been asked to reconsider design options to retain it.

The DA, prepared by Canberra Town Planning, says the Capitol Hotel development will be an “iconic and prestigious building that is commensurate with its prominent location along Manuka Circle”.

“The building has been designed in accordance with the National Capital Plan DCP design objectives, representing a high quality architectural outcome for the site that greatly enhances the character and aesthetic of the Manuka Group Centre,” it says.

“The hotel’s neo-classical design and building finishes reflect the magnificence of premium European hotels such as in Paris … the building is to be an enduring icon in the Group Centre for years to come.”

The DA says the development has the backing of the National Capital Authority and the 18.27 metre high building has been designed to the height and scale specified by the NCP for Section 96.

Its says a study shows minimal overshadowing of existing buildings and the impact of the building on pedestrian amenity of Franklin Street is considered acceptable.

The study indicates that the shadow cast by the hotel on the winter solstice will reach the southern verge of Franklin Street during the morning and the eastern verge of Flinders Way in the afternoon.

The plans show 15 spaces in the basement car park, and the DA says the effective function of Canberra Avenue will not be impeded and pedestrian links will be enhanced.

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This development won’t have a cataclysmic effect on traffic or the surrounding environment as some people claim, but geez, I’m sick of this generic garbage in Canberra (and all Australian cities) Zero outdoor public space to connect the building with the street…. It’s time the ACT Gov. got serious about greening tall developments.

Queanbeyanite8:05 pm 14 Jun 18

That will be a welcome improvement.

Some generic shared public service office space would be nice too.

Capital Retro9:34 am 15 Jun 18

Public servants will be the only ones able to afford to go there so, why not?

15 car spaces!!!???

You would think Liangis and the ACT authorities were having a laugh, and maybe they are … at what they can get away with. The joke is about the Paris building style coming with Paris parking. So will the ACT government allow us to park all over footpaths, right around corners and in double rows in crowded areas? I didn’t think so.

Really, when does this government start to come to grips with reality and Canberra’s parking and other community needs?

It’s not neo-Classical. It would be better described as Beaux-Arts or, more precisely, Haussmann style. However the design isn’t really any of those, its just a six-storey building with a mansard roof.

HiddenDragon5:43 pm 07 Jun 18

If this helps to keep things humming along in Manuka, then that will be a good thing.

As to the tree, if these words –

“A registered tree is proposed to make way for the substation, although the proponents have been asked to reconsider design options to retain it.”

mean that the tree may go after due consideration of alternatives, blah blah blah, it does sort of beg the question as to why we are still maintaining (presumably at considerable expense to over-taxed ratepayers) a when-it-suits tree protection regime. The original story (many years ago) was that the really important (howsoever defined) trees around the town would be identified and listed and then that would be it – no more jumping through bureaucratic hoops simply because a tree meets arbitrary size criteria.

15 car spaces for a 58-room hotel? That doesn’t work, although it would be the usual Canberra planning failure with regards to car parking.
And traffic management just won’t be possible on that corner. It’s already a mess.
Unless they pedestrianise that stretch of Franklin Street and convert the remaining square formed by Franklin, Flinders, Bougainville and Furneaux to one-way streets, it will just be a schemozzle.
And Flinders really needs to be pedestrianised at least as far as Bougainville, at minimum it needs to be made one-way as far as Murray Cres.

Capital Retro5:21 pm 07 Jun 18

They will only be for Teslas.

Hey, Ian Don, ya darn right the KBRG, GNCA and ISCCC will oppose this!
Seven stories?!? That’s too high for everyone sitting in cafes to see the Manuka Oval lights and complain about them intruding on the “visual amenity” of empty space.

And that large tree on Franklin St is of enormous historical, heritage and emotional value to everyone who likes trees, even generally, and even those people living miles away.

And there will be all the impacts of cars, driving on roads! How selfish and unfair that anyone suggest anything for this key commercial and recreational hub of the 25,000 inner-south residents.

Manuka should be frozen in 1965, the golden age. An artifact of how things used to be, a living museum – but not one that attracts visitors, coz they have cars.

Capital Retro3:13 pm 07 Jun 18

So, “European-style”.

Is this code for bidets in every room?

The design is historicist rubbish, but it’s leaps and bounds better than what it’s replacing.

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