Once surrounded by opium poppy fields, the old CSIRO building known as the Downer shopping centre will be revamped to reveal the Canberra red bricks beneath the current layer of unwelcoming graffiti.
Residents of the suburb celebrated the news at a party at the shops on the weekend. Families playing on the grass proved a stark contrast to the backdrop of the currently derelict Downer shopping centre building.
Stage one of the project to remove the asbestos-ridden roof and prepare the building for occupation is set to cost $1 million. By December, the developers hope to have the first tenant, the Village Vet, in the re-energised heritage-listed building.
In 1945, before the suburb of Downer was even gazetted 15 years later, the farm machinery shed was built by the now CSIRO.
It wasn't until 1961 the buildings were transformed into shops. The sign for the shops has been irrelevant for the past decade, as the building stood empty and uninviting.
Two years ago, developers Theo Poulos and Njegosh Popovich purchased the building. As inspiration for the upgrades, they are looking to the uber-popular The Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney.
"We've got espresso bar operators, we're talking to hairdressers, we're talking to a bookshop, we've had conversations with a shoe shop, we've got a licensed café with outdoor area and seating," Mr Poulos said.
Mr Poulous envisages the area overlooking the oval to include a dog park, alfresco café seating and garden beds with an array of fresh produce for use by the eatery.
The area at the front of the shops will receive a complete facelift, to incorporate glass-fronted commercial areas facing the existing community centre.
The first tenant of the building, veterinarian Dr Damien Solley and his wife Amanda, said the family-run, boutique clinic will include a funky interior design taking advantage of the proposed light-filled high barn-style roof.
"It's been derelict for a long time," Dr Solley said.
"There has been a lot of interest, and when people start to see the development happening after more than a decade, that will get some buzz."
Downer Community Association convenor Di Fielding said other parts of the inner north have come alive recently, and it's a trend they're hoping to jump on.
"We're very excited about the development, there has been so many obstacles put in the path, it's been like an obstacle race, but it's finally on the way," she said.
Ms Fielding said since the local school closed in 1988, families moved out of the area and older people took up residence.
"The whole wheel has turned again now. There are so many young families here now, it's quite a centre of activity."