Well-known Canberra developer Sotiria Liangis has proposed a seven-storey hotel for a prominent block of land in Manuka, but a protected tree that stands on the block still stands in the way.
A development application lodged for the $11 million first stage of the project shows the hotel would be modelled on European neo-classical hotels, such as the Le Grand Hotel in Paris, with a second stage to replace the Capitol Cinemas.
The application says the Cox Architects designed "Capitol Hotel" would be "an iconic and
prestigious building that is commensurate with its prominent location along Manuka Circle", designed to "reflect the magnificence of premium European hotels".
But the application also shows the project, if approved, would mean removing a protected London Plane tree, which was the subject of a long-running legal battle between Mrs Liangis and the ACT's Conservator of Flora and Fauna.
Mrs Liangis had bought the block housing the Capitol Cinemas in the late 1980s and has since progressively bought up the rest of Section 96, finally purchasing the block housing the protected tree in 2015, after the tree was formally registered in 2012.
The case highlighted an anomaly in the Tree Protection Act caused by amendments to the Act in 2009, forcing the government last year to make more changes to clarify who could be allowed to deregister a protected tree, and what consultation had to happen before an application could be approved.
Mrs Liangis said the "very beautiful hotel" would be built in two stages, ultimately covering the entire Section 69 Griffith she owns, and she saw the project as one that would leave a lasting legacy for the family.
The first stage would see the demolition of the current buildings on Block 3 and 4, Section 69 and removal of the protected tree; to make way for a the 58 room hotel with ground level lobby and reception and a cafe or restaurant with underground carpark.
The second stage would see the continuation of the hotel size and design for the remainder of Section 96, on Blocks 1, 2 and 5; with plans to have the cinemas and remaining tenancies vacated ready to start work early next year.
She said the first stage of the project would cost about $13 million, though the final cost of both stage one and two would likely be "triple" that figure, or likely close to $40 million.
The application lodged shows the hotel would have five storeys of hotel rooms, with its height reacing up to seven storeys high, or 18.27 metres, and applicants Canberra Town Planning writing the scale of the development was consistent with the National Capital Authority's plans.
But Mrs Liangis said she was keen to get on with the entire development, which would ultimately see the current cinemas demolished, with a 200-plus room five-star hotel across the whole section, with plans for a newer six screen cinema to replace the current one.
She said the current cinemas, some with up to 400 seats, were no longer viable, though she was negotiating with Greater Union to come on board to run the new cinema complex, with the new auditoriums having up to 108 seats.
Mrs Liangis said she was looking forward to stage one starting "very quickly", and was currently working on finalising the details for stage two, with demolition notices to go to remaining tenants in January next year, with work on stage two to start in June 2019.
Documents lodged with the application also detail damage the protected tree's roots had caused to the footpaths and the foundations of the existing building, and its location on an easement, arguing it needed to be removed.
Despite the legal status of the tree, Mrs Liangis said it was registered on "false information", and that "it has to be removed and it will happen".
The development application argues the tree also represents an "unacceptable risk" to public or private safety, that the application to deregister the tree met at least two criteria under the Act and it should never have been registered in the first place.
The application is open for public comment until June 28.