Freo's View

KINGS SQUARE GAME CHANGER FOR FREO

Posted in city of fremantle, development, economy, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on June 8, 2017

 

 

 

It is only weeks until the Fremantle Kings Square Project will get started and a new website is under construction to keep us up to date, so check out www.kingssquarefremantle.com

I had a chat about the game-changing project with the very straight-forward and open City of Fremantle Director of City Business Glen Dougal who was very positive about Fremantle’s future and said it was exciting for staff to be part of such a progressive city.

“Can we afford Kings Square? Absolutely, yes! Do we have to budget for it? Yes” Dougal said. “At the start we will take a bit of a hit but we will trade out of that without a doubt.” It is an investment into Freo’s future and the CoF will have to cut its costs for a while. The debts will be written off in ten years.

“The Kings Square Project is not going to send us broke, but we’ll have to invest wisely and prioritise projects. We will cut costs in the right spots while still delivering what the community expects of us.” Dougal adamantly said.

All the development under way and already approved development to come will see a significant and structural change in revenue for Fremantle and improve the bottom-line. CoF could not rely on the fluctuating revenue base it had to work with in the past. “Improving the rate base is a very good outcome.”

The operating budget will end up with many more millions that will increase from 8 to 10 million dollars in ten years that can be used for other projects. It will mean we only have to raise rates at CPI.

Borrowing money from state government for longer would also be a better short-term gain, but the state kept charging local governments more for utilities and also loans while demanding they cut costs. “The state government only allows us to borrow on the operating budget.” said Glen Dougal.

All the new businesses and residents will increase revenue for the City and that is good because parking and other revenue has gone down.

The community will be consulted on the ten-year budget plans and a new 165-bay carpark will be built at the Stan Reilley site next to Fremantle Oval by the end of this year.

The vacant site for the Hilton Doubletree hotel at Adelaide Street will also be converted into a carpark untl the SKS group is ready to start building and a 120-bay carpark next to the Fremantle Tennisclub in Parry Street is also on the cards.

Glen Dougal shrugged off criticism that Sirona Capital might one day sell off their Kings Square properties saying that most investment money was off-shore and that foreign investment in Australia had been happening all around. He pointed out the SKS group who will build the Hilton is foreign money, as are many hotel groups.

It is always refreshing to talk with Glen Dougal because he is a no-nonsense operator who does not play games and does not get involved in politics. He is very matter of fact and professional and had nothing to hide. He showed me stats and graphs on the computer he will present to Council. He was very positive about the vision and strategic planning of Fremantle Council and said under the good leadership of Mayor Brad Pettitt all Councillors could shine.

I walked away from my meeting with Glen Dougal feeling confident about Freo’s future. Nothing in life is perfect and there are no doubt issues at the City of Fremantle and things that need to be improved by the administration, but I personally don’t believe Fremantle could afford not to do the Kings Square Project as traders in the city are in desperate need of economic recovery. Many hundreds of new people residing in the CBD and thousands working here will make a huge difference, and so will tourists staying in the new hotels.

Good leadership is about doing more than just the populist things and the Kings Square, Fremantle Oval, Cantonment Hill projects are huge for our city, as is all the private investment through development  Council has been encouraging. It will create a vibrant modern east end of Fremantle. One day in the distant future and with the help of the WA government we will also see the South Quay Project go ahead.

I am optimistic about Freo’s future and can’t wait for the official opening of Kings Square in about two years from now!

Roel Loopers

One Response

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  1. me said, on June 8, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    I’m optimistic about the future of Fremantle too. I can see that we have to go through a period of ‘pain’ before things turn around. But one thing I would like, really, really like to see is the dropping of the ‘Kings Square’ title and going back to ‘St Johns Square”


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