Freo's View

ARE SOME OF FREO’S PIPELINE PROJECTS A PIPE DREAM?

 

I am all for telling the good Freo stories, but the City of Fremantle’s latest media release is basically rehashing old news to counteract today’s criticism in the West Australian.

This is a large section of the media release:

A review of the City of Fremantle’s Economic Development Strategy suggests there is increasing confidence in Fremantle as a place to invest despite the current stagnation in the WA economy.

A report to be considered by Fremantle Council next week said the most recent CommSec ‘State of the States’ report ranked WA’s economy as the second-weakest in the nation, while figures from the WA Treasury indicate lower discretionary spending on retail, food and beverage services.

The report also quotes Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA business confidence surveys in which 64 per cent of respondents said they expected economic conditions to stay the same or worsen over the next 12 months, with weak demand cited as the largest barrier to business growth.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said even though the picture was gloomy for the broader WA economy Fremantle was showing encouraging signs.

“In 2017-18 Fremantle reached a record high of $313 million worth of residential and commercial property approved for construction, defying the WA trend which has seen building approvals fall by 9.2 per cent over the past year,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“Of Fremantle’s current $1.3 billion development pipeline more than $600 million is either built or under construction, with recently completed residential apartment developments continuing to grow the inner city population.

“New residential development either recently built or under construction is continuing to contribute to a projected 68 per cent increase in the number of people living in Fremantle’s city centre by 2021.

“We’ve also seen new businesses continue to open in Fremantle, with a trend towards new food and beverage outlets rather than traditional retail.

“This means Fremantle now boasts an even stronger offering of unique, high-quality hospitality offerings as well as a selection of high-end boutique retail outlets.”

Despite the increased investment in Fremantle the Economic Development Strategy review also highlighted that the broader economic headwinds were challenging for local businesses.

Commercial vacancy rates in the city centre have been increasing in line with the wider metropolitan area, although vacancies in Fremantle were clustered around current redevelopment and construction zones.

While all of the above is true we also need to realistically acknowledge that a lot of the pipeline development has stalled. The Woolstores hotel development, the Hilton Doubletree, the Little Lane on the Spotlight site, the Energy Museum development and also the Justice and Police Complex in Henderson Street are all projects in waiting, and so is the boutique hotel at the Warders Cottages next to Fremantle Markets.

That is a lot of development that might, or might not, go ahead and even senior officers at the City of Fremantle are doubtful that some of them will actually become reality.

The most sensible way for Fremantle Council to move forward is being pragmatic and to accept that some of the planned and approved development projects are still a long way away and that the Kings Square development all on its own won’t bring the economic rebirth Freo badly needs, and our many struggling traders can’t wait for much longer. What is needed is short term action and prioritising a strong marketing campaign.

Roel Loopers

2 Responses

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  1. Suzanne said, on July 18, 2019 at 6:12 am

    Yep. Agreed. Notre Dame should do more for Fremantle as we all pay their rates for them.
    Plus every time I pass the ruination of beautiful Kings Square, I cringe that we are also funding that huge money drain.
    The Taj Mahal for you know who.

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  2. w3st3ndr3sid3nt said, on July 17, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    A 68% increase in CBD residents – does this mean a whopping increase from 800 to 1400! Also how many of that increase have been / will be families. Other planning solutions will never succeed until our population increases 10-fold.

    Development has to of the correct type – not models that are failing across Australia.

    Amendment 49 has been a well-intentioned disaster due to spineless councillors.

    Two more things to add to your list Roel – the Council needs to stand to UNDA and tell them they either get students living in the CBD or start paying a decent chunk of the $700,000+ in rates each year – and make High Street the Main Street again – open it up all the way through.

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