The developer behind the long-awaited Giralang shops development should proactively keep the community updated on the project's status to prevent rumours circulating, a Labor backbencher says.
Suzanne Orr, whose electorate of Yerrabi covers Giralang, said the community deserved a public update from the developer on the status of the project.
"There hasn't been a public update for close to a year. They just want to know what's going on. It does rest with the developer, he does have an approved DA, it's up to him to get on with building, but the last update the community got was the deposits for the apartments had been handed back, he couldn't get a supermarket in and he would have to have a bit of a rethink about what was happening," Ms Orr said.
Ms Orr said she had contacted developer Dimitri Nikias to ask for an update and share the community's frustrations over the shops, which have sat dormant for almost 15 years.
Mr Nikias told the Sunday Canberra Times he was still trying to secure a supermarket tenant for the development.
"Essentially the situation remains the same, as does our disappointment at not being able to yet secure an anchor supermarket tenant which is essential for the viability of the project. We fully appreciate and share the community's frustration," Mr Nikias said.
Mr Nikias said the coronavirus pandemic had forced retailers to put off decisions due to market uncertainty but last year had shown supermarket operators local shopping centres were a strong business proposition.
Ms Orr sponsored a petition to the Legislative Assembly calling on the assembly to seek an update on the project's progress, which attracted more than 500 signatures.
The petition has automatically been referred to an assembly committee.
Paul Calvert, a Giralang resident who launched the petition, said it was very frustrating the shops still had not been redeveloped.
"I think it's not necessarily even the lack of a shops now, it's more than that. It's just having that wasted space there that should be used for the community in some way or another: shops, cafe, apartments, whatever," Mr Calvert said.
Mr Nikias last wrote to residents in April 2020 to say the development had failed to sign a major supermarket to the project and the development would not be feasible without an anchor tenant.
Mr Nikias said at the time a major supermarket was close signing on after negotiations and had accepted an initial offer, but the proposal was then rejected by the supermarket.
Mr Nikias said at the time the supermarket was "one of the two majors".
"Unfortunately, I can provide the water, but I can't bring the horse to drink," said Mr Nikias, whose family has owned the site since the 1970s.
ACT Planning Minister Mick Gentleman in August 2018 used call-in powers to approve a development application for a mixed-use precinct, including a 1000 square metre supermarket and 50 apartments.
Then planning minister Simon Corbell used call-in powers in 2011 to approve an earlier proposal for a Woolworths supermarket, retail outlets, cafe, restaurant and car parks, but the plans were never completed.
That decision prompted a bitter stoush between other local supermarket operators who launched legal action over what they saw as overdevelopment of the Giralang site.