The ACT government has given the green light to the first stage of the planned $100 million revitalisation of Canberra’s iconic Belconnen Markets.
The 3-hectare site is owned by ASX-listed real estate investment manager Elanor Investors Group, and is located about nine kilometres from Parliament House and is close to Belconnen’s town centre.
Stage one is expected to be completed in late 2019 and comprises 3750 square metres of strip shopping, ideally suited to retailers with floor plans between 200 square metres and 1000 square metres.
Sited on vacant land opposite Bunnings, it will have daily exposure to 30,000 vehicles travelling along the main arterial road Belconnen Way.
Leasing agent Alex Smith, of Laing+Simmons Commercial, said the approval of the first stage was the beginning of a new era for the Belconnen Markets, which had been an iconic retail destination for Canberrans.
“Generations of Canberrans have enjoyed visiting its fresh food markets on weekends,” he said.
“This master-planned redevelopment will take that experience to a whole new level. And it will deliver Belconnen its first major new retail development in years.”
Mr Smith said the developers had extensively researched community market trends in Europe and the US as part of the planning process.
“There is going to be a strong focus on retail as an experience that really connects with shoppers,” he said.
“It will be taking the retail experience to a level that hasn’t been seen in Canberra before.”
He said negotiations were advanced with a number of national brands likely to become anchor tenants of stage one.
“We’re aiming to select a balance of tenancies that complement one another and the fresh food market focus of stage two,” he said.
“This might include, say, retail businesses that specialise in kitchen utensils and appliances, perhaps others with a health and fitness focus.”
Developer Elanor has now lodged a development application for stage two, which will seek to replace the ageing Belconnen Markets with a new 5500-square-metre market hall with under-cover parking for 146 cars.
The market hall design will feature a high roof structure that lets in natural light and ventilation, and is scheduled to open in late 2020.
The size of the stage-two development would be 30 per cent bigger than the existing market hall footprint, allowing the introduction of new specialty food retailers and food catering outlets to complement Belconnen Markets’ existing fresh food offering.
Elanor’s co-head of real estate Michael Baliva said the overarching vision for the precinct was to transform it into a day and night destination.
“It’s going to deliver an unique experience that can’t be matched anywhere else in the ACT or NSW,” he said.
“In other parts of the world, revitalised markets are increasingly activating mixed-use precincts and these are becoming an important anchor of community economic activity.”
The 2017 sale of the Belconnen markets marked the end of an era for Canberra hospitality veterans, the Efkarpidis family, who had owned and operated the markets since the early 1990s.