Construction has started on a mixed-use residential project on one of the most prized sites in Canberra after a lengthy planning and approvals process that involved close consultation with the National Capital Authority and community groups to ensure it fits with Walter Burley Griffin’s vision for the city.
Named, appropriately enough, The Griffin, the 260-apartment, three-building project on Constitution Avenue in Parkes next to the Anzac Park West building is set in spacious grounds with views of the lake, Brindabellas and Mt Ainslie.
Canberra developer Amalgamated Property Group began preparatory work two weeks ago but the heavy excavators will be on site from today (21 September) to begin the heavy digging.
Also on site for a special soil-turning ceremony will be representatives of community groups that have been involved in the project consultation process including the Reid Residents Association, the Campbell Community Association, the Kingston and Barton Residents Association, Canberra Modern and other architectural design community members.
Development manager of Amalgamated Property Group Michael D’Elboux said the community input had definitely made for a better development.
”There is usually a lot of clashing between the development sector and community groups, but we started working with them in April last year,” he said.
”I think that makes a massive difference when you do that type of thing with the community and you actually listen.”
A key concern was the heritage aspect including the curtilage and pavilion (the former Anzac Park West cafeteria), which had to be retained as part of the development conditions.
”We took them down to the site and showed them what we were planning to do with the heritage pavilion, so they knew it would be protected and always protected,” Mr D’Elboux said.
Despite three eight-storey buildings to be built on the 15,000 square metre site, the sense of space is crucial to the overall design.
”You’ve got 30 per cent of the site protected by heritage curtilage and the podium gardens are over 1000 square metres,” Mr D’Elboux said.
DBI Design project director and architect Ewald de Weerd said the podium gardens are so large another building could have been sited in the space.
“We could have increased the number of homes but that was never our intention. We deliberately have maximised space, inside and out so that these homes will give residents a lifestyle balance that is unique,” he said.
Mr D’Elboux said that on average the mix of one, two, and three-bedroom apartments were 20 per cent larger than those of competitors.
He calls this the ‘missing middle’ and has resulted from market research showing this is what buyers are looking for.
The one-bedroom apartments range from 59.1 square metres to 63 square metres, the two-beds are around 100 square metres and the three-bedroom apartments are from 133 to 148 square metres. Prices range from $435,000 (one-bedroom apartments) to the penthouses at $2.95 million.
As well as the extra space, the apartments boast up to eight-star energy efficiency and have been designed to provide genuine outlooks.
Interest has been strong locally, from downsizers to young professionals, including first-home buyers, and the demand for the penthouses has been surprising so early in the process.
Mr D’Elboux attributes this to the prestige location and its accessibility to the lake (a few minutes walk via the Parkes Way underpass) and the city only 1.2 km away.
He said the buildings had been designed to fit the location, including the surrounding mature trees.
”When it’s finished you’re going to have a state-of-the-art facility that feels like it’s always been there,” Mr D’Elboux said.
One building will front Constitution Avenue and contain 87 apartments, with about 1600 square metres of commercial space on the ground floor.
Another on the south-west of the site will have 93 apartments, while the third building fronting the pavilion will hold 80 apartments, with resident facilities including a gym, pool and health and wellness centre. There will also be a concierge service.
Construction is scheduled to be complete by July 2022.