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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Brittney Levinson

Luxury Braddon development set to face next test

The ageing Elouera Street flats would be replaced with luxury apartments (inset) under a developer's proposal. Pictures by Keegan Carroll, supplied

Plans for 105 luxury apartments at the site of an ageing block of flats in Braddon has moved ahead, while owners of neighbouring homes have voiced concerns about the project.

Moruya-based Liebke and Co has proposed a nine-storey development at 90 Northbourne Avenue, to replace the Elouera Street flats.

Following community consultation earlier this year, the group has submitted a formal development application to the ACT government's planning authority.

The developer is seeking approval for the demolition of the existing flats and six trees, to make way for the construction of a nine-storey building.

The 105-apartment development will be called Ahlei, after Liebke and Co CEO Rowan Liebke's first-born daughter.

Three basement levels with about 150 car spaces, accessible from Elouera Street, is also in the plans. Each car space will be electric vehicle-ready, which means buyers can choose to have an EV charger installed in their park prior to taking ownership.

However, "active travel" would be encouraged due to the development's location about 60 metres from a light rail stop.

The development will be called Ahlei, after Liebke and Co CEO Rowan Liebke's first-born daughter. Picture supplied

A rooftop garden and a flexible, work-from-home space on the second floor would be made available to residents.

The total cost of works for the multi-use project is estimated to be about $36.6 million, the application states.

Liebke and Co purchased the Elouera Street flats in 2022 for a figure understood to be in the mid-$10 millions.

The Elouera Street flats were one of few company-titled properties in the ACT, where owners acquired a share in the corporate entity, or company, that owned the building.

The uncommon ownership structure meant years of negotiations between the previous eight shareholders of the unit complex.

Liebke and Co senior development manager Nick Gray said the group initially presented two options to the National Capital Design Review Panel: one commercial and the other residential.

The panel suggested a combination of the two.

"We've adopted that recommendation and we've now changed our proposal to include retail space on the ground floor, office space on the ground and first floor and then residential everywhere else," Mr Gray said.

Neighbours voice concerns

Consultation took place in May and included flyer drops and online sessions.

The main concern raised by participants was regarding the proposed development's impact on the neighbouring Phoenix building.

The developer has addressed privacy concerns through the addition of a fixed louvre system.

Issues were also raised about overshadowing, particularly for Phoenix's 38 north-facing units, the consultation report noted.

"One person believes that the loss of sun light will reduce the value of their property. Others are concerned that the lack of direct sunlight will impact the cost of living, mental health and the overall amenity of the Phoenix building," the report stated.

In response, the developer agreed the proposal would have an impact on access to sunlight, especially in the winter months.

But it said the proposal was consistent with the Northbourne Avenue Corridor Precinct Code and met the requirement by providing affected habitable rooms in the adjoining block with no less than two hours of direct sunlight between 9am and 4pm "for many days of the year".

A solar study by Cox Architecture found all Phoenix apartments would achieve an average minimum of two hours of solar access during summer.

About 20 per cent of the Phoenix apartments would receive less than two hours of solar access during winter.

There was also a concern about possible damage to the integrity of the Phoenix building due to the planned excavation for the basement levels.

Screening elements would be added to mitigate privacy concerns for future residents. Picture supplied

In response, the developer said the excavation would be carried out according to proper standards.

They said "extra scrutiny is being applied to the proper shoring of the excavation by the relevant authority" following two excavation collapses in Canberra in 2022.

Luxury penthouses in the plans

The Ahlei development would offer a diversity of apartment choice that was currently lacking in the inner north, Mr Gray said.

Apartment types would include studios, one-bedroom units with or without a study, two- and three-bedroom units, as well as five penthouses.

The top-floor apartments would appeal to downsizers who "don't want to look after the big block anymore, but they don't want to compromise on space", Mr Gray said.

On the ground floor, a series of loft-style apartments would be sold as residential homes but could become commercial spaces if there is a demand for them in the future.

"We've got a really great aspect because we face north, east, west. We're uninterrupted in that sense," Mr Gray said.

"So we thought well, we've got an opportunity to do something really special lets actually put a lot of effort into getting these floorplans right."

Subject to approval, the group hope to begin selling the apartments in early 2024 and start construction by mid-year.

The period for representations on the development application closes on August 25.

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