Shop and buildings owners in Garema Place fear for their future if a proposal for a nine-storey hotel is approved for the heart of the city.
Earlier this year, Geocon lodged an application for a five-star hotel in the heart of Canberra city. It originally planned for 233 suites across 16-storeys that would rise 50 metres, dwarfing the Canberra Centre. But after backlash on the height of the building the developers amended the proposal.
The new application reduces the height from 50 metres to 35.2 metres and drops the number of hotel rooms to 191.
Co-owner of Impact Comics Mal Briggs said he was concerned about what would happen to his business that has been at Garema Place for a decade. He said the development seemed "pretty flash".
"I'm all for anything that's going to make Garema Place more welcoming, but I am a bit concerned about the construction phase and what it would mean for us trading during that time - with noise and dust and also what it will do, especially during the colder winter months and what it might do with cutting some sunshine," Mr Briggs said.
"I know some business out in Gungahlin have really struggled with the construction of the light rail in front of their shop.
"We already have an ongoing battle out here trying to convince people to step outside of the shopping centre and shop here. Having a big construction zone is not going to be anything that's going to encourage anybody to come out so that stresses me a little."
Mr Briggs said he had seen the amount of sunshine hitting Garema Place in the afternoon already been cut off after construction on the western side.
There were 14 submissions to the initial proposal, including from the ACT Greens and an owner of a building next door to the development location.
ACT Greens opposed the initial proposal saying it would create a dark, cold and overshadowed city centre. Caroline Le Couteur said it was good to see Geocon was listening to community concerns about overshadowing.
"The ACT Greens objected to the original plans because they would have largely shaded Garema Place from before 9am until after 11am during winter," Ms Le Couteur said.
"The city should be a sunny, enjoyable place to spend time."
"We’re confident that the revised scheme addresses these concerns and have offered one-on-one briefings with all of the parties who made submissions to step them through the updated design," Mr Stewart said.
"One of the changes includes a reduction in the height and scale of the building, significantly improving solar access to Garema Place."
Neighbouring building owner David Newham was highly critical of the initial development. He said he was in the advanced stages of preparing a development application for block 3 and the proposal would severely impact the development outcomes proposed for the site.
"This representation has identified several planning, design and procedural matters in relation to proposed re-development ... that are considered to negatively impact on the amenity of neighbouring properties and the established character of this part of the city centre," the submission said.
"We also believe the proposed development unfairly diminishes the ability for us to redevelop our block."
The submission said the then 16-storey high building appeared to have an excessive bulk and scale relative to existing original and redeveloped sites nearby.
"A 16-storey building surrounded by two, two-storey buildings can hardly be branded consistent," it said.
The Queensland Investment Corporation was concerned about the lack of car space on site.
Geocon had initially planned for just 21 car spaces, based on the hotel's location in the city and the number of public carparks nearby. The new proposal has increased parking for 47 vehicles.
"From our assessment, the project appears to substantially underestimate the actual level of parking to be generated by the development," the submission said.
The corporation said there had been no consultation by Geocon or its representatives with them about the use of its car parking structure for the proposed overflow of the parking demand.
"QIC has developed its car parking spaces principally for the use of customers and employees working within its development."
The Garema Hotel will replace the Garema Centre at 70 Bunda Street, with the hotel lobby opening on to Bunda Street. The 1052-square-metre site has dual frontage to Bunda Street and Garema Place.
Fashion business Mussen Boutique director Mia Carr is one of 12 tenants currently calling the Garema Centre home. At the time of the sale, the building was marketed as a "significant long-term redevelopment opportunity".
Ms Carr said the proposal was going to push small businesses, including hers, out of the heart of the city.
"Yes, it's a hotel in the city, and yes it's supporting the immediate area of the city, but is it supporting Canberrans and Canberra run businesses? I don't think so," Ms Carr said.
"We really want to stay in the city and we just don't know if that's possible if these really big businesses keep dominating the areas and putting ridiculous rents."
Ms Carr said she didn't think the spot needed a hotel.
"It's going to be bigger than anything else in the city - it's going to stand out," she said.
"If you put a big building where you cast a shadow over a city it's actually going to kill the liveliness of the area during the day, people aren't going to want to walk around the space and enjoy it if it's under a dark shadow of a building."
Geocon bought the Garema Centre in September last year for $13.35 million.