Developer Nik Bulum has confirmed he has bought the Canberra City Bowling Club site in Braddon, promising he won't be building high-rise apartments on the site but will instead seek to create a "village-within-a-suburb".
"I'm open to sitting down with the community and getting feedback but it's not going to be a high-rise apartment block, no, they don't have to fear that," he said.
Mr Bulum, who is credited with revitalising the retail, cafe and restaurant strip of Lonsdale Street in Braddon, said his plans were likely to include keeping one of the bowling greens on the club site for social bowls, badminton, croquet and bocce.
He was keen on opening an old-school-style milk bar and cafe which could be used particularly by students and parents of Ainslie School across the road.
A "very small" boutique hotel was likely.
An eatery and bar along the relaxed lines of his Braddon project The Hamlet, an art gallery, gardens, day spa and function room for the community to use for weddings, birthdays and other events were also in the mix.
Mr Bulum said he wanted the Elder Street site to be a vibrant community hub.
"It's exciting because I guess I'm going to create a village within a suburb," he said.
"But it has all sorts of things that people can interact with and the suburb around actually use further than just a bowling club.
"I saw the potential for something amazing there and I would hate for it to be knocked down and turned into only apartments.
"The nice thing about that site is that it's a stone's throw from the city, people can walk over there."
I'm living next door so the last thing I want is a five-storey apartment building looking down on meNik Bulum
Mr Bulum said he had also bought a block next door to the bowling club to build himself a house and he also didn't want to live right beside a high-rise residential development.
"I loved the area and I loved the bowling club and I thought, 'God, wouldn't it be nice to reinvent this whole experience?'. Ten thousand square metres of bowling in a city is expensive, that's why it's not viable but there's all these ideas I had in my head.
"So I'm living next door so the last thing I want is a five-storey apartment building looking down on me."
Mr Bulum confirmed his family's company, the Bulum Group, had bought the site but declined to say for how much.
"I don't like talking about money," he said.
Mr Bulum said he had been looking to extend his holdings outside of Lonsdale Street and while he had moved his sights only a couple of streets to the east, the concept for the bowls club site had to be different to a busy street.
He had put some concept plans to the Ainslie Group's chief executive officer Simon Patterson who "wanted to keep the site sort of true to Braddon and to its community". There were no firm plans yet.
But, in the same way that Lonsdale Street had developed almost organically, Mr Bulum said he wanted the bowling club site to be developed thoughtfully rather than in a rush.
"We've got two years. And I want to take it slow and evolve it slowly," he said.
Mr Bulum said he wanted existing bowling members to stay and use the greens if they wanted. He would look at using perhaps some of the existing buildings in the new development.
"I haven't had a good look at it yet. There's the possibility of using some parts of it as long as it doesn't have asbestos or something toxic," he said. "I'm looking at creating more parking so it doesn't create problems for the street."