A 16-storey office tower, a 12-storey, 150-room high-end hotel and a new auditorium housing a 2,000 seat theatre are part of the Woden Hellenic Club’s ambitious plans to diversify its revenue sources and secure its long-term future.
The club has unveiled a two-stage development project and master plan for the Callam Street site that it believes will fit with the changing face of the Woden Town Centre and serve the club’s 50,000 members and the increasing residential population in the area.
The integrated development will extend the club’s footprint from the current premises across the surface car park which will be replaced by a three-level basement providing 800 spaces.
The current facilities will remain but likely be refurbished.
The club is about to launch community consultation with a presentation to the Woden Valley Community Council next week and is now embarking on the detailed design phase ahead of lodging a development application in six months.
It hopes to start construction late next year.
Club CEO Ian Cameron said the plans, two years in the making, would transform the site into a mixed-use precinct of the like Woden has been crying out for.
He said the two drivers for the redevelopment were a need to secure parking, with the adjacent ACT Government surface car park slated to be released for development, and the imperative most Canberra clubs were facing to move away from poker machine revenue and shift the club to a more sustainable income stream.
“We’re looking forward to the next 40 years. We’ve been here for 40 years, now for the next 40 years – how are we going to secure our future?” Mr Cameron said.
He said basing a business on pokies income was no longer viable and they would disappear by natural attrition over time.
Other critical elements of the master plan include a unique multi-cuisine dining area on the ground level of the auditorium based on the idea of the Greek agora or central gathering place that will have an alfresco feel but be protected from the elements, as well as sports bars and a micro-brewery.
Besides the theatre, which will be designed to attract national shows and events and complement the Canberra Theatre in Civic, other entertainment attractions envisaged include a cinema, bowling alley and arcade games.
A multicultural centre for all of Canberra’s diverse community is also planned, as well as function and conference spaces.
The club wants to be positioned to take advantage of the high demand for A-grade office space, timing the completion of its 20,000 square metre building for when leases expire and government agencies are looking for new premises, as well as providing spaces for smaller private tenants.
A new A-grade office building would bring more public servants back into the Town Centre, boost its employment base and support local businesses.
The club will also be offering a child care centre, gym and day spa.
Mr Cameron said the high-end hotel would fill a gap in the southside market, and provide accommodation to visitors taking in a show or event at the club.
The basement car park is aimed to meet the club’s needs on weekends while being available to office workers during the week.
It will also be a ‘smart’ facility, including charge points for electric cars, part of a range of sustainability measures planned for the precinct.
Mr Cameron said early community feedback had been very positive, particularly the decision to not just build more apartments but focus on commercial development and the recreation activities the new precinct would provide for the Town Centre’s burgeoning population.
He said the new facilities would also be available for community use.
Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick said the plans were impressive but she would like to see more ground-level spaces, such as the dining area, open to the street instead of everything being inside.
Mr Cameron said Canberra’s extreme climate made a weather-proof option more viable.
He said the plans were at a conceptual stage and would likely evolve through the design and consultation process, including after feedback from the National Capital Design Review Panel.
Hellenic Club board president Andrew Satsias said the project would build on the significant residential development already occurring across the Town Centre.
“Our goal has been to identify multiple commercial anchors that will drive foot traffic and visitation to our site,” Mr Satsias said.
“We are confident that the work-to-date by our design team promises a world-class lifestyle precinct that will feature elevated entertainment, dining, social and commercial spaces that will attract local, national and international visitors.”
The club has engaged Peter Micalos’s Intellectual Property Group as development manager and Purdon Planning to run the consultation and DA process but is exploring a range of options for actually delivering the project.