Geocon has made further changes to its Garema Place hotel proposal, incorporating a Canberra culinary institution and adding extra office space as part of a new vision for the project.
The construction giant's latest $120 million plan for the Bunda Street development seeks to include the iconic Gus' Place cafe, along with its alfresco dining area.
The cafe would sit at the base of an 11-storey building, which would include a 215-room hotel, office space and a function room, according to new plans presented to the ACT Planning and Land Authority.
The proposal is the third Geocon has put forward since it bought the Garema Centre at 70 Bunda Street for $13.35 million in 2017.
The developer had originally planned a 16-storey, 233-suite hotel, which would have dwarfed the neighbouring Canberra Centre.
The height and scale of the proposed development drew the ire of the ACT Greens, which said the building would blanket the city's heart in shadow and should be rejected.
Geocon heeded the concerns, scaling back the building's height to 11 storeys and reducing the number of hotel rooms to 191 as part of new plans lodged with the planning authority in October last year. The number of proposed carparks also increased from 21 to 47 spaces.
Those designs were given the green light, despite some Garema Place traders fearing the building would "kill the liveliness of the area".
However, the developer has reworked the plan for a second time after buying the building next door, which includes the 1967s-built Gus' Place cafe.
The move means Geocon can amalgamate 66-70 Bunda Street, creating a footprint of 1500 square metres in the heart of the city.
The proposed development would include 2500 metres of office space and a 1000 square metre function room, which Geocon said could be used for comedy nights and live music.
A Geocon spokesman described Gus' Place cafe as a "Canberra institution" and said it was important that its "social and cultural heritage" was retained. The cafe was the first Canberra cafe to introduce outdoor dining in the 1970s.
The cafe reopened in July 2017 following a year-long revamp under its new owners.
The Geocon spokesman said the wider Garema Place development was designed to transform the city precinct into a "safe and inviting place for people to use".
"In its current form, Garema Place has a great deal of potential for improvement and Geocon are pleased to have been given the opportunity to make these improvements," the spokesman said.
The proposal is currently out for preliminary public consultation, with Geocon expected to lodge a formal development application with the planning authority later this month.
It expects to start construction work in early 2020, subject to the authority's approval.