The first residents of Geocon’s Republic development have moved into the massive Belconnen precinct, with about 360 apartments settled across the two buildings dubbed Dusk and Republic.
The precinct, which is the largest mixed-use development ever approved in Canberra, will have more than 1200 apartments across four towers when it is completed including the territory’s tallest building.
About $130 million worth of apartments have settled over the past six weeks, which is about 90 per cent of the total stock. The Dusk and Republic buildings have 390 units.
Geocon director of sales Tom Stephens said there were only two buyers affected by the coronavirus pandemic who were unable to settle. He attributed the low default rate to the fact most of the buyers were local.
“The [low] unemployment rate in Canberra, we are in a bubble really,” he said.
The first apartments in the precinct were put on the market in 2017 and Mr Stephens said most of those were purchased by live-in owners but he said after the ACT government scrapped the first-home buyer grant there was a shift to the investor market.
Emma Deighton, Jayden Hatley and son Jet, 10 months, were the first people to move into the development more than a month ago. The couple purchased a two-bedroom apartment in the Republic tower.
“It was a bit like a ghost town for about two weeks but we were just super excited to just get in here and settle in,” she said.
Ms Deighton said they bought an apartment when she was pregnant so they could have a place to call their own. She said they were attracted by the shared amenities as well as the commercial aspect of the development.
“We’re so so excited, it’s just super convenient especially having the Woolworths downstairs,” she said.
“I mean we can’t wait for all the restaurants, bars, clothes shops and everything that is going to be going downstairs as well, it is just going to be a little community which is so good.”
Mr Stephens said Geocon had its biggest month in more than a year in May with more than 150 sales. He said having a finished product had helped bolster the number of sales.
But he said market conditions had been challenging prior to the pandemic.
“We went from a state election, federal election, royal commission into banking and then we had storms and fires and the overall sentiment in the marketplace had been a bit subdued,” he said.
“COVID hasn’t had an effect, sentiment was already low anyway but I think we have completed stock for people to walk through and people have been holding off making a decision, which has worked in our favour.”
Not all of Canberra’s high-rise residential market has been immune to COVID-19.
Morris Property Group has halted development on the residential portion of its One City Hill project and is instead looking at opportunities to build a commercial development. Up to 1200 apartments were slated for the site.
As well, the long-awaited Dickson Coles development with 140 apartments has also been held up.
The Housing Industry Association has forecast new apartments being built in the territory would fall by about two-thirds from its peak in 2018-19.