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Canberra’s love of high-density living is turning up the retail heat

September 28, 2018

An artist's impression of retail spaces at Kambri, at the Australian National University, which are due to open in February 2019.

New precincts combining retail, residential and commercial offerings are giving Canberra’s retail market an extra lease of life.

Latest census data found 16 per cent of Canberra residents live in apartments, and the popularity of high-density living has led to an array of new retail hotspots around the city.

Burgess Rawson managing director Guy Randell said one of the most exciting precincts to be released recently was DKSN Dickson, a joint venture with Doma Group and Englobo Group. DKSN Dickson was a fully self-servicing precinct for workers, residents or Canberrans within easy reach of a transport network.

The mixed-used precinct in inner-north Canberra comprises 300 apartments, 13,000 square metres of committed ACT government office space, 10 floors of strata-titled professional offices, a 1300-square-metre medical hub, a supermarket, gym and more than 40 retail/hospitality units, as well as additional office and retail spaces.

“We also have another great precinct coming with the A+A development in the Woden town centre, which sees the derelict Alexander and Albemarle buildings brought back to life in a vibrant cultural environment with brewery, artisan bakers, coffee roasters, gym and numerous other retailers,” Mr Randell said.

Colliers International office leasing director Michael Ceacis said No Name Lane (NNL), a food destination for ANU students and office workers on the east of the CBD, had attracted some of the capital’s most popular and innovative food retailers, while successfully bringing a little bit of Melbourne to Canberra’s CBD.

Developed by Morris Property Group and designed by Cox Architects, NNL features Canberra’s first dedicated poke bowl restaurant Supa Bowl, a salad bar and cafe The Goods, Taco Taco, Ming’s Pantry, as well as the Donut Department, a BWS and an Asian grocer.

Morris Property Group has developed other precincts that were generating new retail hotspots, including Governor Place in Barton and Parc in Jamison, Mr Ceacis said.

According to Colliers, CBD retail rents vary from $700 to $1200 (plus GST) a square metre, while outside the CBD rents range from about $520 to $600 (plus GST) a square metre.

Prime retail yields with good covenants and long-term leases are generally between 5 per cent and 7 per cent, depending on value and location.

“Canberra has more retail square metre per capita than any other capital city in the country with over 10,000 square metres of retail coming on line over the last 12 months. We expect this trend to continue over the next few years with the large number of mixed-use developments under way,” Mr Ceacis said.

The shopping and food strip of Braddon, minutes from Canberra’s city centre, was a retail hot spot which was only becoming hotter, according to CBRE metropolitan investments associate director Adrian Woolgar​.

He said the former automotive services strip, which during the past six years had transformed into a funky strip of apartments, coffee shops, bars and restaurants, was commanding average rents of $650 a square metre, compared with $600 a square metre just 12 months ago.

Laing + Simmons Commercial managing director Alex Smith said hospitality and retail offerings at Kambri, at the Australian National University, was set to become an upcoming retail hot spot with more than 90 per cent of the 45 retail spots leased ahead of its February 2019 opening.

Meanwhile, CBRE research has found that during the three years to March 2018, retail trade in the ACT has recorded strong growth of 4.6 per cent a year, head of NSW (4.2 per cent).

The research found that throughout 2016-17, higher levels of public spending by both the federal and ACT governments translated to higher levels of consumer confidence and a robust retail trade environment.

Opportunity beckons

The Parc Village as it will look when completed. The Parc Village as it will look when completed.

Parc Village is the latest retail hub within the popular Jamison Plaza in Canberra’s north.

Offering an array of businesses including grocery shopping, food and beauty, the plaza attracts residents from nearby suburbs, wider Belconnen and across Canberra.

Colliers International office leasing executive Caleb Brinton said the popular plaza attracted a strong trade.

“Built in 1969 in Macquarie, Jamison was the first shopping centre servicing Belconnen. Today Parc Village offers the refreshed retail precinct Macquarie has been after,” he said.

Parc Village is designed to service the residential market of southern Belconnen, and is at the base of the development.

“The populations of Belconnen and Macquarie are growing and predicted to continue expanding,” Colliers International office leasing director Michael Ceacis said.

“Yet Parc is the last development in the area that can accommodate commercial spaces.

“Parc Village offers retailers an opportunity to establish themselves in this prime market in a modern precinct with ample free car parking and good public transport links.

“With Calvary Hospital and the new University of Canberra Hospital nearby it would also lend itself very well to medical services.”

Units will suit retail, personal and food services and range in size from 53 to 249 square metres.

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