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Friday, May 14, 2021

Kingston Arts Precinct moves forward

Not since the Kingston Foreshore redevelopment commenced in 2007 has the Inner-South precinct undergone a facelift of this magnitude.

The $78 million Kingston Arts Precinct, more than 20 years in the making, is one step closer to completion this week with an agreement signed for Geocon to deliver the project in partnership with the ACT Government.

Following the successful tender, the Suburban Land Agency will manage the next stage of consultations with the tenderer.

A formal community engagement process will run in parallel with ongoing consultation between Geocon, artsACT and local art organisations that will move into the precinct once completed.

Minister for Urban Renewal Rachel Stephen-Smith said progressing with the next stage of community consultation is an exciting milestone for residents, art groups and the wider Canberra community.

“Through the Suburban Land Agency and artsACT, we will work very closely with Geocon to ensure arts organisations, stakeholders and the community are provided the best possible opportunity to engage in the design process.”

The ACT Government’s budget of $78 million for the precinct development includes $50 million for purpose-built art facilities for resident art organisations and accommodation for visiting artists.

Canberra Glassworks Chair David Whitney told ABC Radio Canberra’s Breakfast that the ACT Government has shown leadership by making a significant investment in the project.

“The Glassworks has been in gestation for 20 years and we’ve been operating now for more than 10 years. When you look at the cost of what the Glassworks were at the time, there were a few rumbles saying ‘oh, this is a lot of money’.

“There was a lot of argument and discussion about building the first of the community arts centres in Australia at Tuggeranong.

“The ACT has shown some leadership along the way, and the community engage in these programs.

“Not everybody wants to go along and be a part of it, that’s fine. But not everybody wants to go to the Folk Festival or to Summernats,” he said.

Chairman of the Inner-South Business Council, John-Paul Romano, said nearby businesses welcome the announcement.

“The new precinct will bring more life to the Kingston Foreshore, where some businesses are currently struggling to keep the doors open.

“Speaking to local business owners … they would like to see the currently vacant land developed, with some stating the undeveloped land is becoming an eyesore.

“However, local business owners stress that there must be adequate public parking, and high-quality development, many of which trust will be the case,” he said.

Geocon has engaged architects Fender Katsalidis and Oculus for the project. Fender Katsalidis is well known for creating both the New Acton Precinct and Hobart’s Mona Museum.

The first stage of community consultation will be a design briefing with key resident groups, art organisations and Fender Katsalidis to be held in two weeks.

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