The adaptive re-use of the historic Fremantle Dalgety Woolstores into the Heirloom residential apartments by Match and Sirona Capital is almost finished, with scaffolding coming down at Beach Street showing the old building in its new glory.
There is something truly majestic about this building, and the renovations look fine but for the one design feature of large boxed windows on the top level. To me that looks inconsistent to the rest of the facade, but that is just my individual opinion and I am sure everyone will have they own say on it.
Estimated occupation of the building is December this year and it will be a great addition to the Freo inner city.
City of Fremantle Councillors will on Wednesday evening consider if it is appropriate and in the best interest of the City to purchase up to five apartments in the Heirloom by Match residential development on Queen Victoria Street. Match want to develop the heritage-listed former Dalgety Woolstores site but the pre-sales have been slow due to an over supply of residential units in the Perth metro area. Match needs pre-sales of 125 units but have only sold 118 so far.
The City is asked to support the development, and a building start by possibly April this year, by investing $ 3 million for five discounted one and two bedroom apartments in the complex.
I believe this is an interesting dilemma as it might set expectations and precedents for other commercial development in Fremantle. The Kings Square development for example is being delayed more and more, so what if Sirona Capital asked the City to help bail them out as well in some way or form? What if the Atwell Arcade developers can’t find someone to lease their ground-level shops? Should the city lease or purchase anything at all they don’t require to run a local government? Instead of purchasing five residential apartments, would it maybe be better for the COF to offer a loan to Match, and would that be appropriate to do?
As the officers point out in the agenda, it is unlikely the City would make a profit on the sale of the units because the residential market is down, there is an over supply of new units on the market, so COF might sit on the units for years and might even have to start renting them out which would incur maintenance and management costs for a long period.
The WA State Government is making a huge loss on apartments they bought in Karratha to support residential development there, so I don’t think the City of Fremantle should risk $ 3 million of ratepayers’ money to help private developers who are set to make millions.
The pressure developers constantly put on local councils that if they don’t do this or that than development will not go ahead is something Councillors need to reject, as it has become a common approach by developers to force Councils into making decisions that are highly unpopular in the community.
We all want Fremantle to move forward, progress and develop and we all want to see more life injected into the East of the city, and I really like the Heirloom development, but private developers take financial risks based on expected large profits and local government should not get sucked into speculative investment, supposedly because otherwise a development is not viable. Let’s not forget that Match also intends to develop the former Energy Museum site into residential and commercial, so why take that on when they can’t even get enough pre-sales for the Heirloom project?