Developer Barry Morris says he wanted to get on the front foot with community consultation for the redevelopment of the Stuart Flats in Griffith, with the public given its first glimpse of preliminary plans on Wednesday.
Plans for the seven-building, six-storey development included 414 residential apartments, a childcare centre and a medical centre.
Trees on the block rated excellent or better would be kept alongside 82 new trees.
Morris Property Group, which in March bought the site at auction for $55.6 million, said the development would not overshadow neighbouring homes on Stuart Street and included more car parking than required.
The group expected a development application to be lodged in September, demolition of the former public housing flats to be finished in November and work to start in February on the first stage of 100 apartments.
At the first community consultation presentation, Mr Morris said the plans had been refined with input from the National Capital Design Review Panel.
Mr Morris, wearing a red "Make Manuka Great Again" cap and T-shirt in the style of Donald Trump's 2016 "Make America Great Again" campaign, told The Canberra Times Manuka night-time dining had "fallen off the twig a bit".
"I guess we're wanting to let the local residents and the Manuka traders know that this is a very important rejuvenation of Manuka and we want them to see this is part of the future community and hopefully they'll get behind it," he said.
Mr Morris said consultation for his 1997 Manuka development, now called Manuka Terrace, was not handled well by anybody involved.
"The developer, the retailers and the community and everyone ended up at each other's throats," he said.
This time, Mr Morris went straight to the Griffith Narrabundah Community Association.
"And I said to the executive committee, 'We have to do it better this time and so we are here to talk to you, [on] day one, about our plans'," he said.
He said he had a good working relationship with the residents. "I think we need to all work together to get people's concerns on the table up front so we can address them," he said.
Griffith Narrabundah Community Association president Leo Dobes said Mr Morris had done the right thing by initiating consultation.
"We're still concerned about parking in terms of completion of the project, because if it brings more business to Manuka, visiting those flats, we're still not sure whether there's going to be enough parking on the street," Mr Dobes said.
"Our concern is, I guess, that there be enough underground parking at the Stuart Flats, so it's not the same situation as Kingston."
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Mr Morris said changes to the expected density for the project had probably assuaged some community concerns.
"I think in the early days the development density proposed was in excess of 600 [units] and now the development, this proposal, is for 414 units.
"It has already been scaled back to provide more open space, less density, lower heights, and so on, so I think that's probably placated some of the concerns of the residents," he said.
Mr Morris said there was a "burgeoning supply" of units coming through the Canberra market, which could cause some oversupply.
"I think the growth of the city will absorb it, and we're already seeing that with projects being finished in the Northbourne Avenue corridor that are being occupied. And the vacancy rate in Canberra is still around 1 per cent," he said.