QIC lodges plan for hotel, apartments and expanded Canberra Centre on section 96
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QIC lodges plan for hotel, apartments and expanded Canberra Centre on section 96

The Canberra Centre owners have unveiled plans to transform the Cooyong Street outdoor carpark in the city into a 15-level building with apartments, a hotel, office space and an extension of the mall.

The ground floor and first floors will be given over to shopping, with two sky bridges on the first floor linking through to the Canberra Centre across Narellan St.

An artist's impression of QIC's proposed section 96 development looking from Donaldson St, with the the office tower at left, the apartment tower at right, and the entrance to the mall off Cooyong St in the centre.

An artist's impression of QIC's proposed section 96 development looking from Donaldson St, with the the office tower at left, the apartment tower at right, and the entrance to the mall off Cooyong St in the centre.

Above that, the Queensland Investment Corporation, which owns the Canberra Centre, plans a 10-storey office tower, a 12-storey hotel tower with 180 rooms, and 248 apartments over 12 storeys.

The development will dwarf the Canberra Centre, rising 49 metres and reaching the outside city height limit of 617 metres above sea level.

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 An artist's impression of QIC's proposed section 96 development, looking from Lonsdale St at the apartment tower.

An artist's impression of QIC's proposed section 96 development, looking from Lonsdale St at the apartment tower.

It calls for lights at the intersection of Torrens and Cooyong streets, and plans access to the mall off Cooyong St at that intersection.

The hotel is on the Genge St side of the development. The apartments face Lonsdale and Torrens Street in a building with a deeply curved facade, and the office block is on the Scotts Crossing end of the development. The entire development is joined at the ground and first floor levels, which house the shopping mall.

QIC has lodged a development application with the ACT government, with public submissions open till February 6. It has costed its 96,000 square metre development at $214 million.

It is one of three major developments in planning within a block of each other. On Mort St, developer Graham Potts of Amalgamated Property Group, has applied to demolish five buildings across an entire city block. He wants to build an office block also rising to the height limit, at 49 metres, facing on to Veterans Park. Submissions on that plan close on Monday January 16.

An artist's impression of QIC's proposed section 96 development, looking towards the office tower on the corner of Cooyong St and Scotts Crossing.

An artist's impression of QIC's proposed section 96 development, looking towards the office tower on the corner of Cooyong St and Scotts Crossing.

One block in the other direction, SHL Developments has bought the former Currong and Allawah public housing blocks where it plans more than 500 apartments rising to 12 storeys, as well as shopping and office space. Submissions on the first stage of SHL's project close on Thursday January 19.

On the other side of the city centre, adjoining Glebe Park, the casino has proposed two hotels as part of a new casino with luxury-brand shopping.

QIC has owned the section 96 carpark for more than 10 years, and has released a number of previous iterations of developments that have not eventuated.

The latest application says the development will be similar in scale to a proposal approved by the government in 2011, but with improvements - the inclusion of a hotel, improved architecture, the scrapping of planned podium-level parking, more basement parking and slightly fewer apartments.

The plan includes 1179 basement parks, replacing the 325 parks in the outdoor park at the moment.

In 2014, QIC lodged an application to build a pedestrian and car bridge across Scotts Crossing, an idea since dropped.

QIC Global Real Estate managing director Steven Leigh said it was too early to say when work might begin and conclude.

QIC was "focused on ensuring the development was timed to meet the needs of the community and the market", he said.

"This proposed development represents an opportunity to complement the ongoing revitalisation of the Canberra CBD, providing additional living spaces and employment opportunities in the city centre, and positioning the city to meet future demand," he said.

Asked about major retail tenants such as a supermarket, QIC said it was too early to determine the full project scope and specific retail and tenancy mix.

Purdon Planning, which lodged the application for QIC, said the development would bring substantial investment in the local economy and boost jobs.

"The proposed development will not have any adverse impact on surrounding development, but will make a positive contribution to the viability of adjacent business activity and better use of existing city infrastructure," Purdon said.

A spokesman for the Braddon Forum lobby group, Peter Conway, welcomed the design and the application, saying for too long QIC had sat on prime land, "land banking" instead of developing the site.

"I support it 100 per cent. I hope they're not stalling again," he said.

Kirsten Lawson is news director at The Canberra Times

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