8 July 2019

Work could start on controversial Barton site next year after sale

| Ian Bushnell
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The site in Barton is near several Commonwealth agencies and Doma-owned hotels. Image: Supplied.

Doma Group and the Goodwin and Kenyon Group have acquired a prime development site in Barton from the Commonwealth that required an environmental offset before it could be sold due to the presence of the Golden Sun Moth, an endangered species.

The 11,560 square meter site on the corner of Sydney Avenue and National Circuit, marketed by Deloitte Real Estate on behalf of the Department of Finance, is adjacent to the Little National Hotel, developed and owned by Doma since 2012.

It is within 500 metres of Parliament House and near several major Commonwealth Government Agencies and suitable for a landmark mixed-use development, with Doma expecting to start construction as early as next year.

The National Capital Plan contemplates a range of uses for the site, consistent with the surrounding development which includes national capital use, commercial office, hotel, residential apartments and ancillary uses, including car parking, retail and cafes and restaurants.

Doma’s general manager of development, Gavin Edgar said the company’s preference was for new office accommodation of up to 40,000 square metres in one or two buildings catering to Commonwealth and private sector tenants.

“But we may also explore another hotel given the future demand we expect,” he said. “We expect to start construction in early 2020 subject to planning approvals.”

Finance’s plans for the site go back to 2017 and Cox Architecture, in a preliminary document for the Department, said the site could yield up to 425 apartments over six storeys.

However the block includes an endangered natural temperate grassland and the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth, and Finance’s plans for the site attracted criticism from the Friends of Grasslands group, which also found the conditions attached to the sale approval wanting.

These conditions include offsetting the loss of land, which will have to be cleared, with an area at Hall, and Finance having to provide $100,000 for research.

Doma’s Managing Director, Jure Domazet said: “We have been actively developing in Barton since 2003 when we purchased and developed the old Macquarie Hostel that is now known as the Realm Precinct directly across the road.”

Doma Hotels now run the five-star Realm Hotel and 4.5-star Burbury Hotel. The company has built a number of Commonwealth buildings – for the Department of Health, Australian Taxation Office, Department of Human Services and the National Archives. It has over 40,000m2 of new office either under construction or planned for later this year in both Canberra and Newcastle.

The Goodwin and Kenyon Group has been an active property and investment group in Canberra since the mid-1960s and welcomed the opportunity to join with Doma to deliver a quality project in the heart of one of Canberra’s most important precincts.

Principal David Kenyon said the site provided a unique opportunity to create a first-class development which would enhance the position of Barton as Canberra’s most prestigious precinct.

The sale process was conducted by Deloitte Real Estate via a single stage tender that closed on 16 May. Details of the price and settlement terms remain confidential.


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