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ACT government releases 30,000sqm site on Northbourne Avenue for development

A map of the Dickson on Northbourne site.A map of the Dickson on Northbourne site. Photo: Supplied

The ACT government has released a mega slice of land on Northbourne Avenue for a mixed-use precinct.

The 30,000-square-metre site, encompassing the former Dickson Towers and Karuah public housing blocks and the original tourist visitor information centre, will go under the hammer in August.

The land has been earmarked for a mix of retail, commercial and residential development as the government continues to rejuvenate Northbourne Avenue and activate the light rail route.

Demolition of the Dickson Towers began earlier this year.Demolition of the Dickson Towers began earlier this year. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The sale will raise money for the Capital Metro project, while the addition of 697 dwellings will contribute to higher population density along the corridor.

Land Development Agency CEO David Dawes said the site, named Dickson on Northbourne, would inject new life into the main thoroughfare into the nation’s capital.

“We have already seen the effect that stage one of light rail is having along the Northbourne corridor, with developers seizing on the exciting potential this area possesses,” he said.

“New developments are capitalising on the area’s proximity to light rail to create a mixed residential, commercial and retail avenue that will be a destination in its own right for Canberrans and visitors.

“The announcement [on Thursday] of this significant release of Northbourne Avenue property provides for the continued transformation of one of our most important transport corridors to allow more people to live, work and play close to schools, businesses, first-class amenities and world-class public transport.”

The site includes 500 metres of Northbourne Avenue frontage and is within walking distance of the Dickson Group Centre.

The three sections of the site will be sold as one package as part of the federal government’s Asset Recycling Initiative, with settlement to be staggered over three years.

The ACT government expects to receive $67 million dollars as part of the scheme through the sale of aging government infrastructure, including this site. 

The Dickson Towers site will settle first in 2017, while the Karuah site is scheduled for 2018 to allow for the continued relocation of current tenants.

The demolition of the Dickson flats began in February, marking the beginning of the redevelopment of the Northbourne Avenue public housing precinct.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr previously pushed for all but one of the 1960s precinct buildings to be demolished, but a legal challenge to the ACT Heritage Council protection order by the National Trust saw 17 preserved.

The successful buyer of Dickson on Northbourne will have to incorporate the heritage aspects of a number of heritage-listed former public housing buildings left on the block.

The old tourist visitor centre site will settle in 2019 after construction of the Gungahlin-to-the-city light rail route is complete.

The new Canberra Region Visitors Centre has relocated to the National Capital Exhibition at Regatta Point.

Knight Frank’s Nic Purdue, Daniel McGrath and Tim Holtsbaum have been appointed selling agents. 

Mr Purdue expected the site to attract interest from local, interstate and offshore developers.

“Canberra’s economy is performing well, with jobs growth, population growth and boosted investment returns on residential property,” he said.

The entire site will be auctioned on Wednesday, August 31 at 11am at the National Museum of Australia.