Plans for a luxury hotel at the National Arboretum have been put on ice due to a lack of market interest but the proposal will be revived post-coronavirus.
The ACT government had hoped an eco-lodge would be built to attract local and international visitors to the capital and opened the proposition to the market in late-2019.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said in an estimates hearing the market sounding process had failed to secure a bidder because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We had a market sounding process and in the middle of COVID, unsurprisingly there wasn't an interest in making an investment at this point in time but we'll approach the market again in a post-COVID recovery phase," he said.
Mr Barr said he expected interest would return once it was opened to the market again.
"Pre-COVID there was interest but there just wasn't a bidder in the middle of COVID," he said. "But when we put it back to market I expect there will be interest."
The market sounding sought a commercial operator to build and run the proposed hotel. The government had planned to offer a long-term sublease, with some kind of rental return to the ACT.
The proposed hotel would only have 40 guest rooms and would be an eco-lodge suited to "luxury wellness and nature devotees".
"It's not going to be a 10-storey building with 200 rooms in it, it would be a low-scale, small, boutique facility that's consistent with the types of built form at the Arboretum," Mr Barr said.
It would be built on the south-western side of Dairy Farmers Hill, the main lookout at the Arboretum.
The hotel would require approval from the National Capital Authority. A variation to the National Capital Plan to make way for the hotel was submitted to the authority last year.
Mr Barr was asked by Greens MLA Johnathan Davis if the government would accept an unsolicited proposal from an operator but the Chief Minister said no, as both he and the National Capital Authority were committed to a set design.
"We have put in place a framework for a land release in accordance with some pretty strict planning requirements from the NCA so an unsolicited proposal in that context would presumably be looking to do something that was outside of the pretty strict parameters that have set so I wouldn't be entertaining that," he said.
"I think we are pretty clear on what we want."
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