The long-awaited Dickson Coles development has been delayed, with the supermarket giant blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for the hold up.
But The Canberra Times understands the project had already stalled before the pandemic hit after one of Coles' development partners pulled out of the venture late last year.
Planning minister Mick Gentleman green lit the proposed housing and supermarket development in July last year, using his special "call-in powers" to end Coles' five-year struggle to win approval for the contentious project.
At the time, Mr Gentleman said he expected construction to commence within six months.
But almost a year on, work to transform the Antill Street carpark next to Dickson Woolworths with 140 apartments and a new Coles supermarket has yet to start.
In a statement, a Coles spokesman said disruptions associated with the coronavirus crisis had led to delays in the commencement of work.
The spokesman said the supermarket giant remained committed to the project, which he described as a "world-class retail and residential precinct in Dickson that meets the needs of local residents".
He provided no timeframe for the start of work, but said the community would be kept informed.
The Canberra Times understands Coles has gone out to tender looking for a developer to help deliver the project after its previous partner pulled out.
In a statement, Mr Gentleman said the delay was "disappointing".
But Mr Gentleman said it was his understanding Coles remained committed to the project and were seeking a new development partner to help deliver it.
"We remain supportive of a new supermarket for Canberra's inner-north, along with better public spaces and more parking in the Dickson centre," he said.
The project's completion has added financial significance for the government, due to a clause related to the controversial Dickson land swap.
While more than five years have passed since the ACT government sold the car park next to the Dickson Tradies to the Tradies Club for $3.5 million, settlement on the deal won't be reached until the Coles development has been completed.
The final report from the ACT Legislative Assembly inquiry into the land swap, which was handed down last month, referenced a letter Mr Gentleman sent on May 5, which confirmed that settlement wouldn't be finalised until the development was completed and deemed fit for occupancy.
According to the report, Mr Gentleman said the City Renewal Authority was holding a 10 per cent deposit for the site.
The delayed start to construction is the latest hold-up in a project which has been in the works since 2014.
Coles' property arm had initially intended to build two supermarkets and 155 apartments at the site, but scaled back the proposal amid community opposition.
The ACT Planning and Land Authority approved the amended plans in mid-2016. But that decision was overturned in March 2018 when the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled the proposal was at odds with local planning rules.
Coles launched Supreme Court action in an attempt to override that ruling.
The proposal, which Mr Gentleman ultimately approved last July, included 4900 square metres of retail space and 472 basement carparks.