The ACT government has finally signed a contract with Doma Group for the redevelopment of the old Yarralumla brickworks, marking a major milestone in the long-awaited transformation of one of Canberra's oldest heritage sites.
Urban Renewal Minster Rachel Stephen-Smith will announce the deal on Wednesday, nearly two and a half years after Doma won the rights to build 380 homes on the historic inner-south precinct.
However, the developer still has to meet a range of conditions, including securing planning approvals, before the government will sell it the 16 hectare block.
As a result, a sale price has not yet been disclosed.
But the contract for sale does mean Doma can press ahead with detailed design work and public consultation on the landmark project.
Under its overarching vision for the site, Doma plans to repurpose some of the brickwork kilns for commercial and retail use, while others would be restored to their original form.
All of the heritage sites would have to be conserved at the developer's cost.
The structures would be surrounded by a mix of standalone houses, terraces and apartments, as well as a public park and a lake.
The process to finalise the contracts was delayed by the ACT government's decision to split the controversial Land Development Agency into two new entities, the Suburban Land Agency and City Renewal Authority.
In January, The Canberra Times reported that the Suburban Land Agency had wanted to review the brickworks tender to ensure it was comfortable with the outcome.
At the time, Doma's managing director, Jure Domazet, was confident the contracts would be signed in February or March.
Asked to explain the subsequent delay, an ACT government spokeswoman on Tuesday said the parties needed extra time to negotiate the "complex processes going forward",
The Yarralumla site set for redevelopment is far smaller than the 49-hectare block which the government had originally planned to release.
That sprawling block would have been able to accommodate up to 1800 homes.
But the size of the site - and the scope for potential development - was scaled back, after the National Capital Authority said it would not support the project unless concerns about access to Government House were addressed.
Mr Domazet said the development would preserve and respect the brickworks' history, while opening it up to a new generation of Canberrans.
"Canberra has very few interesting industrial spaces, but the kilns and associated buildings present an amazing opportunity to be repurposed and enjoyed by the public," he said.
"The scale of the site allows us to approach the brickworks as a landscaping project that happens to include beautiful, boutique, low-density dwellings."
Ms Stephen-Smith said a museum had also been proposed for the site, which would help "tell the story of the brickworks".
"The restoration of the much-loved brickworks precinct will bring it to life again," she said.
"Projects like this demonstrate how renewal can unlock the distinct history and character of a place for future uses and the benefit of the wider community, while preserving its past."
Amid delays to the signing of the contract with Doma, the government has been moving forward with plans to build a new access road to the brickworks precinct.
Construction work on the new access road, as well as an upgrade to nearby Dudley Street, was expected to start early next year, after plans were approved in August.
The project will require the delicate relocation of tens of critically-endangered golden sun month, whose habitat will be destroyed to make way for the upgrades.