Freo's View

HOPING FOR BRIGHT FOMO FUTURE

 

 

A cool and wet day in Freo, so starting it off with a bit of colour from the Henderson Street carpark, which is part of the Kings Square Redevelopment Project by Sirona Capital.

I must admit that in the current climate and Covid-19 economy I am anxious about the FOMO retail concept planned for our city square.

While there is some optimism about Fremantle’s future and the revitalisation of the CBD through residential, commercial, hospitality and tourism development, the pandemic will no doubt delay some of those projects and I just hope that FOMO will still start before Christmas this year, once the Walyalup Civic Centre is completed.

Roel Loopers

FREO CIVIC CENTRE NEARING COMPLETION

 

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There are still a few months to go, but the Fremantle Walyalup Civic Center, designed by Kerry Hill architects, is well under way and nearing completion.

From memory it was supposed to be ready by September, but there probably have been a few delays due to Covid-19 restrictions. Maybe the City of Fremantle can give us an update on that, as local traders are extremely keen to see the end of the Kings Square development site.

Roel Loopers

HISTORIC MOMENT FOR WALYALUP

 

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It is hard to admit that one is not perfect, but I failed dismally yesterday as the chronicler of Fremantle’s history.

On average I walk past Kings Square at least twice a day, but yesterday I did not, so failed to see the start of the dismantling of the crane at the Walyalup Civic Centre construction site.

It was almost done when I noticed it half an hour ago, so here the photos of it.

This is a massive historic step for Freo!

Roel Loopers

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WALYALUP CIVIC CENTRE UPDATE

 

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I took this photo of the Fremantle Walyalup Civic Centre construction an hour ago, so that those who don’t frequent Kings Square often know all about the progress there.

It was good to see so many cars parked in the West End of Freo mid morning, so people are returning to offices from working at home. Notre Dame University students are still only getting online lectures, and they probably won’t be returning to campus this year.

Roel Loopers

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A CIVIC CENTRE IS NOT AN ARTS CENTRE

 

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Brian Shearsmith, a committee member of the Fremantle Society, takes offense in a letter in the Fremantle Herald today to my personal opinion about the City of Fremantle art collection. Shearsmith claims that my opinion here on Freo’s View earlier this week, is an insult to the artists that created them(sic).

I wrote my article after the Fremantle Society committee had unanimously voted to defer the construction of the new Walyalup Civic Centre at Kings Square and instead turn it into an art gallery that would display the City’s art collection.

It is rather hypocritical of a committee member of the Fremantle Society to claim my opinion is an insult to artists, when the Society has been insulting architects and developers for many years, with derogatory remarks about the design of proposed and constructed buildings.

In the meantime the civic centre is developing well, with the main entrance at Kings Square now becoming prominent, as these photos I took this morning show.

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE CITY FINANCIAL CRISIS

 

There is no doubt that the City of Fremantle is having a very difficult financial time with loss of revenue reportedly at $ 2 million a month, which would mean that if the current Covid-19 restrictions remain in place Fremantle would lose $ 12 million over the next six months and will need to drastically reduce expenditure. Freo City management have already done that on a small scale by reducing staff hours and staff numbers temporarily, but there are concerns that for some staff it might mean permanent loss of employment. Senior management and elected members also have taken a 20 per cent pay cut.

It will be extremely hard to prioritise where costs can be cut, and some of it will not be popular with the Fremantle community, but in these unprecedented times unpopular decisions will have to be made.

Word is out that Council might scrap the $ 800,000 per year CAT bus service and that would be very disappointing, but I have little doubt that especially the festivals, One Day Australia Day event, and major works, such as the traffic calming along South Terrace and Hampton Road, will be considered when the elected members discus how and where to save money. The planned new playground at Kings Square might also be cancelled or deferred.

It is of no help at all then when the Fremantle Society comes up with ludicrous suggestions, such as that the completion of the Walyalup Civic Centre at Kings Square should be deferred and the building should be made into an exhibition centre that would show the City of Fremantle art collection.

Does the Society even have a clue on how much money it would take to change the purpose built administration centre into a proper exhibition space? Do they really believe it is just a matter of not putting staff furniture in there and hang some pictures on walls? How naive and silly! And by the way, the Fremantle art collection is not all that flash, as I noticed when I was assigned to photograph most of it some twenty years ago. I asked the consultant curator then why the city had an art collection of which about 70 per cent is mediocre and of Sunday painter quality that is not worth exhibiting.

We do already have an outstanding Fremantle Arts Center that has great exhibitions, concerts and events, and some of the Freo art collection is regularly shown there in the gallery just past the reception desk.

The Fremantle Society president also suggests to redirect the $ 800,000, if the CAT gets stopped, to the repairs of Arthur’s Head, but the CAT would be scratched to save money, not to use it elsewhere.

Council and the administration can use all the help they can get to make good financial decisions, but simplistic and unrealistic demands are not helpful at all, so there is no hope in hell either that council rates will be reduced by 4%, as the Society president suggested.

Let’s stay calm and be realistic, and let’s not start a blame game about which past Council decisions might have been wrong. No one could even anticipate the global pandemic situation we are in, but we do need to learn from it and the City of Fremantle needs to put away money for unexpected changes in the economy. All it can do now is borrow more money, slash costs, because there is no way they can increase council rates from July. Businesses and property owners are struggling. We all are!

We all need to concentrate on the future and acknowledge that there are councils, such as Fremantle, which need and deserve financial support from the state and federal governments, or a lot of public works will not happen, and we could well lose our festivals and events for some years. That would be absolutely terrible!

Roel Loopers

WALYALUP CIVIC CENTRE UPDATE

 

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While life has been very different for the last three or so weeks, work has continued on the Fremantle Walyalup Civic Centre at Kings Square, so it is time to show you what it looks like now.

Roel Loopers

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TOGETHER AT FREO’S FOMO

 

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SIRONA CAPITAL posted this stunning photo of the Fremantle Henderson Street carpark artwork, which is part of the Kings Square Redevelopment Project, with the text below, so I need to share that of course!

Freo’s New Giant Mural TOGETHER – A Symbol of Community Spirit

A striking new 2,000sqm artwork on the façade of Fremantle’s FOMO building stands as a beacon of hope and solidarity in these uncertain times.

Titled TOGETHER, the work is the brainchild of renown London-born artist Morag Myerscough and spells out the word in enormous colourful letters along the façade of the Kings Square car park on Henderson Street.

Visible from as far away as Monument Hill, the work has a new resonance as the people of Perth and beyond face the challenges of staying connected while maintaining social distancing and remaining at home.

With Morag’s famous work around the world centred on creating a sense of joy and belonging for all those who encounter it, we hope the people of Fremantle and Perth take some comfort in TOGETHER and the knowledge we are not alone in facing this trial.

TOGETHER is Morag Myerscough’s first permanent artwork in Australia.

ONE APRIL FOOLS BIG MAC

 

For those who did not realised it is April 1 today, so this morning’s blog post about McDonald’s opening up in the Fremantle Walyalup Civic Centre was just an April Fools!

We need to keep smiling, no matter how tough things are!

Stay well, Freo!

Roel Loopers

MACCAS FOR FREMANTLE KINGS SQUARE

 

 

It looks like Fremantle Council will succeed after all getting a tenant for the hospitality triangle in the under construction Walyalup Civic Centre at Kings Square, with documents leaked to me over night showing that McDonald’s has put an application in for a take-away, McCafe and drive through. This is for the street level and first floor only and does not include level three.

While some might argue that McDonald’s is not classy enough for the location, it will no doubt attract a lot of people to Freo’s city square, so that would be a good thing.

The drive-through part of the application is something that worries me more though. Vehicles would enter from Queen Street into Newman Court and do a right turn behind the cafe, through a new drive-through space that would have to be created. The cars would then exit right through the High Street reserve section and turn left onto Queen Street going north.

This would mean vehicle traffic between McDonald’s and the planned new playground. It is also questionable if a Maccas so close to a playground is a good thing.

The previous application for a bar, restaurant and function centre did not receive support from Fremantle Council, because the proponent wanted three rent free years plus $ 500,000 for the fit out, and did not like the counter offer the City made.

The McDonald’s application will go before the next FPOL meeting of Fremantle Council, so stay tuned.

Roel Loopers

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