There’s something happening in the Belconnen town centre, about 10 minutes north-west of Canberra’s CBD. That’s evident in its changing skyline.
Residential towers are rising and people are moving in. In their hundreds. And that migration won’t be stopping anytime soon.
But what’s caused the rush? To find out, we need to wind back the clock.
The town centre is the traditional retail, dining and light industrial hub of the greater Belconnen area, a region that takes in 25 suburbs housing some 100,000 residents.
But until recently, the town centre had little to offer except for a mall, a big Bunnings and the much-loved fresh food markets. In the streets between were an eclectic mix of shops, car dealerships, takeaways, government offices and more.
What the town centre has going for it, however, is a picturesque setting around Lake Ginninderra, created in the late 1970s through a dam on Ginninderra Creek. And on the other side of the lake, the University of Canberra with 16,000 students.
That brings us back to the most visible change around the town centre: the rise of ultra-modern residential developments.
One that has defined the revitalisation has been the Republic precinct, created by local developer Geocon, with development design by Fender Katsalidis, the team behind Hobart’s MONA, Melbourne’s Eureka Tower and the soon-to-be-completed Australia 108.
The $700 million precinct’s first two residential towers – Dusk and Republic – have delivered nearly 400 apartments, with work on two 27-storey High Society towers currently under way. The precinct also includes an Abode Hotel, retail shops, a bank, lifestyle stores and anchor tenant Woolworths Metro.
This five-building precinct is now set to be completed with the new Nightfall tower, with 334 apartments aimed at first-home buyers, young professionals and downsizers. All up, the Republic precinct will deliver 1250 apartments for some 3000 residents, and a number of commercial opportunities including eateries Trecento, BZB and No.10.
The redevelopment mix is already creating a vibe. Coffee specialists like Chatterbox Espresso have sprung up, complemented by vibey bars like 54 Benjamin. They join some of the neighbourhood favourites like live music venue The Basement, and popular venues like The Lighthouse pub and the Boardwalk Bar.
The Lighthouse owner Spiro Tsiros says he often hears customers discussing the changing skyline.
“They know every time a new crane goes up or a construction adds another floor – it’s like an art-piece happening before your eyes,” he says.
“There’s definitely a positive buzz around the developments – locals see them as a real plus.”
Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis says the Republic precinct is changing Belconnen’s landscape and setting the bar for new developments throughout the ACT.
“And that promise continues with Nightfall. Investors, young professionals and students will find plenty to like thanks to clever design and a location close to everything,” Georgalis says.
“One of the innovations in the development is a shared private entertaining space – complete with a barbecue area, chef’s kitchen and dining room – on level two. This becomes a [bookable] extension of a resident’s own dwelling.”
Each apartment is also packed with sought-after features including stone benchtops, reverse-cycle airconditioning, high-end SMEG appliances and extensive storage.
Georgalis says buyers will be eligible for the federal government’s $25,000 HomeBuilder grant.
Prices for remaining apartments start from $361,900 with options including one-bedroom, one-bedroom and study, and two-bedroom apartments.