Gungahlin set to have its first high rise tower

15 May 2015

Gungahlin is set to have its first high rise residential towers as plans are lodged with the ACT government.

Development applications have been lodged for three separate apartment towers of 22, 20 and 19 storeys which will comprise more than 600 units in total.

The tallest tower will be more than five times the height of existing buildings in the town centre.

Separate plans have also been lodged for a 155-unit development of two seven and 14-storey buildings just around the corner.

The $135 million project was originally planned to be a commercial precinct but Canberra developers Geocon intend to change the lease to permit residential development.

The company scrapped plans for the commercial precinct because it was impossible to attract government departments to the town centre and retail demand had been met.

The ACT government approved plans in 2012 for a $68 million business park on the site, which could have hosted up to 500 public servants.

New plans for “Central Park Gungahlin” have now been lodged with the ACT Planning and Land Authority for a change of lease to allow residential uses and the construction of the three stand alone towers.

Geocon general manager of development Peter Micalos said it was the largest project the company had ever lodged plans for and it would bring the critical mass the town centre needed.

“We don’t want to pre-empt the authority’s decision but we think it’s an exciting project for the Gungahlin town centre,” he said.

“It’s the first time high rise living has come to the town centre.”

Mr Micalos said the towers would be released progressively on the market subject to demand but he expected high interest in the first large apartment project for the area.

He said subject to the development’s approval the first 200 units would be released in late 2015 or the first half of 2016.

The tallest building will be 68 metres in height, which is just 20 metres shorter than Geocon’s Wayfarer tower in Belconnen which will be the highest residential building in the ACT.

This building will contain 243 apartments above four podiums and a basement that will have 292 car spaces.

The 20-storey tower will consist of 192 units and 220 square metres of ground floor retail space above four podiums and two basement levels for car parking totalling 203 spaces.

The 19-storey tower will have 192 apartments and 182 car spaces in four podiums and one basement level.

The precinct will have resort-like facilities like a gym and pool and will also feature vertical green walls on each of the towers.

Geocon bought the huge 17,264 square metre site, surrounded by Anthony Rolfe Avenue, Gundaroo Drive and Gribble Street, for $2.85 million in 2010.

A child care centre and associated car park has so far been constructed on the site and one other area will be retained for future commercial development.

The planning report notes that while the buildings will be taller than existing development in Gungahlin, they do not greatly exceed the desired height requirements outlined in the Gungahlin Precinct Code.

“It is therefore considered that the visual impact of the proposed development on the town centre and greater Gungahlin area is acceptable,” it says.

Plans for the Gozzard Street development include a seven-story building fronting the street and a 14-storey block behind it.

Together the developments will put another 782 units into the town centre though the release of Geocon’s project is set to be staged to avoid flooding the market.

Land Development Agency acting executive director Tom Gordon said the next residential releases in the Gungahlin town centre would be in the 2017/18 financial year.

Two mixed use sites on Flemington Road and The Valley Avenue will be released though specific dwelling yields have not yet been determined.

“As with all land releases, these are subject to changes in demand, approval timings and government priorities,” Mr Gordon said.

Real Estate Institute of the ACT president Frank Pompeani said he expected high demand in the project as Canberra’s north was the growth area for the capital and it would also be close to a terminal of the proposed light rail.

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