Geocon has pushed ahead with its 2020 projects despite the tough impact of COVID-19, the company’s managing director Nick Georgalis has said.
“It’s been a challenging year but again we are well-experienced in faring through tough weather,” he said.
“We have had enormous support from financiers in Australia and internationally who are able to deliver some of these mega projects.”
It comes as construction has topped out on the developer’s Metropol project, opposite the Canberra Centre. The former Bega Flats public housing site was bought by the developer for $38.5 million in 2017.
There are three buildings on the site, one is 12 storeys and two are eight storeys and there are 570 apartments that span the buildings.
Metropol project manager Ned Pattinson said all three building structures had been completed this week and they hoped to have the facade completed before Christmas, at which point the scaffolding would come down. He said construction would be completed in the first half of next year.
The company is set to complete some of its major projects before Christmas and has recently started construction on projects in Belconnen and Tuggeranong.
Mr Georgalis said in the coming weeks residents would start to move into the recently completed Grand Central Towers in Woden (430 units) and High Society in Belconnen (542 units). He said there were fewer than 100 apartments left for sale across the two projects.
As well, the developer has about an additional 2000 apartments in the construction pipeline over the coming years.
And Mr Georgalis believed the demand was there. He said the Canberra market was under enormous pressure due to a “gross undersupply” of properties.
He said this was evident in the Canberra market’s low rental vacancy rate of 0.9 per cent, according to Domain.
“The Canberra property market is under high pressure and we see that in our final product selling, the high rental yields and the low vacancy rates,” he said.
The developer has previously come under fire from critics who say Geocon developments have contributed to a unit oversupply.
But Mr Georgalis challenged this.
“The misconception out there that there is this oversupply of property has been stated year-on-year for my whole career and we’ve never experienced that, so the narrative isn’t true and in fact there is a gross undersupply and a huge demand for property,” he said.
Along with Metropol, the developer has more plans to build in the city.
Earlier this year, Geocon bought a site at 70 Allara Street. Mr Georgalis said there would be about 350 apartments across two buildings on the former army training site.
“It’s a true blue-chip location, it’s a special spot with views to the lake and is conveniently located near Commonwealth Park,” he said.
“We are looking to submit a development application early next year.”
As well, Geocon has planned to build a hotel in Garema Place. The developer received DA approval for the 11-storey building in January. Mr Georgalis said works would commence next year.
“Hotels have certainly been challenged this year with COVID but Canberra hotels have still been outperforming the market again,” he said.
“Our intention is to finalise that design and we intend to commence that late next year, again there is a very detailed process of design development and understanding exactly what the hotel needs and requirements are.”