Freo's View

A FREMANTLE TALE OF TWO TRIANGLES AND A SQUARE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on July 22, 2017

 

There is a bit of ambiguity in this little snippet of the invitation to a Kings Square information session by the FRRAemantle Society.

“The Fremantle Society has from day one expressed concern at the King’s Square Business Plan. That and the flawed King’s Square Urban Design Study by CODA architects have set the parameters for large buildings insensitive to the scale of the historic human scale of Fremantle, the nearby World Heritage listed Fremantle Prison, turning King’s Square into King’s Triangle.” 

It was not the CODA Kings Square Urban Design Study that set the parameters for medium-rise buildings at Kings Square, but Planning Scheme Amendment 49, approved by the Minister in 2012.

PSA 49 identified 13 sites in the Fremantle CBD for high density infill. One site will become the Hilton Doubletree development, the Woolstores shopping centre site is another one, and Kings Square is also one of the PSA 49 sites.

Some of the historic woolstores in Fremantle are well above the “human scale” we constantly hear the Fremantle Society talking about, and the Townhall probably would not have been approved because of its height if FS had had anything to say about it.

The medium-rise Kings Square development will have no impact whatsoever on Fremantle Prison.

The lament about Kings Square being changed into two triangles is tedious, as in 1881 High Street was extended through the square, so two triangles were created then. One triangle belongs to St John’s church, the other triangle is City of Fremantle.

Only in 1960 was High Street closed and the square returned to a square, but the High Street road reserve still exists and St John’s church still own half of the square, realistically making it into two triangles.

Even now some traders in the West End want to reopen High Street through Kings Square to help their struggling businesses, but I hope that will never happen.

High density infill is a State Government requirement, and the near derelict condition of the city east of Kings Square will only benefit from substantial development, that will greatly help improve the retail and hospitality economy in our city.

Nothing is constant in life. The world changes, Fremantle progresses and modernises, and that is a good thing. We don’t live in a museum, but in a living, breathing space full of energy, innovation, change, creativity, and after 40 years of stagnation and hibernation, finally development!

What we need to be far more concerned about than the Kings Square Project and development in the East End is the relentless push by developers to get extra height in the historic West End of the city. That is not acceptable and needs to be stopped!

Roel Loopers

QUEENSGATE PARKING ONLY $ 2.00 PER HOUR

Posted in city of fremantle, kings square, parking, sirona capital, Uncategorized by freoview on July 20, 2017

 

From the end of July parking fees at Queensgate car park will change ensuring it continues to be one of Fremantle’s best value carparks.

A new flat rate of $2 per hour, every hour, will apply to all car park users after 27 July, resulting in a simplified and easy to understand fee structure. An early bird rate of $9 will also be available.

Queensgate will continue to offer parking rates at or below the cost of other facilities in Fremantle including surrounding commercial facilities and City-operated meter parking.

Sirona will also undertake a multi-million-dollar refurbishment of the car park which will make Queensgate a more attractive, cleaner, safer and reliable facility.

The upgrade starts next week with the installation of new boom-gates and easy to use ticketing and payment equipment.

Announcing the new simplified fee structure, Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly said there had been no adjustment in fees since July 2015.

“We’ve thought long and hard about the best way to structure parking fees at Queensgate both in terms of legacy issues and the overall outcome we’re expecting in the precinct with the Kings Square Fremantle renewal,” Mr McNeilly said.

“Our analysis of the car park operations found that simplifying the fee structure would contribute to a better performing and more user-friendly car park.

“Our independent analysis has recommended other ways to activate the car park and deliver broader positive outcomes for the precinct beyond free parking.

“We’ll be implementing those concepts both during and after the Kings Square Fremantle renewal,” he said.

The car park and adjacent Queensgate building were purchased by Sirona as part of the City of Fremantle’s contribution to the City’s $50m investment in the $270m Kings Square Fremantle Renewal project.

Queensgate car park is operated by Secure Parking on behalf of Sirona.

 

EXCITING FREMANTLE KINGS SQUARE PROJECT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on June 30, 2017

 

ks 4

 

The City of Fremantle and Sirona Capital held a Kings Square Local Traders Forum at the Federal Hotel on Thursday evening to update the businesses most affected by the Kings Square Project, which will start next month.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly presented the exciting project in detail and were assisted by Probuild managing director Sam Delmenico who will be responsible for the construction of the four buildings.

The Kings Square project is the biggest development ever in Fremantle and will take about 30 months to completion, with retailers expected to move in by mid 2019 and state government agencies by the start of 2020.

1,155  workers will be on the construction site full time for the 30 months, which will be a boost for the local cafes and traders. Most importantly they will also be there during the very quiet first half of the week, so local traders will no doubt benefit from it.

Probuild and the City should make sure that none of those building site coffee vans will drive to the construction site daily as that would negatively impact on Fremantle traders!

Matthew McNeilly told the audience that this is an extraordinary project for Fremantle that will significantly add to the Fremantle retail and hospitality experience. It will be a catalyst for future investment and development in our city.

There will also be an $ 8.5 million investment in the public realms with public art, nature playground, etc. which will make Kings Square an attractive place of lingering and relaxation in the city. It is meant to be a place for families to come to.

The new library in the Civic Centre will have 50% more space and badly-needed 11 community meeting spaces.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said it would be one of the most green buildings in Western Australia and that Fremantle could absolutely afford to build it. It is an investment into the City’s future!

Matthew McNeilly promised a whole new ‘deconstructed’ retail concept that is authentically Fremante, and a big exciting marketing campaign.

The precinct will be multi-layered with laneways running in different angles. It will be design-inspired retail and it will become a significant retail precinct for Freo.

Sirona Capital will also spend $ 8 million on the Queensgate carpark and activate Henderson and Queen streets with street level retail.

They will try to keep the carpark open for as long as possible but it will have to be temporarily closed at times, but 165 new parking bays will be provided at the Stan Reilley site and the vacant space on the corner of Point and Adelaide streets will also be made into a public carpark to add additional parking bays.

Probuild will try to minimise the impact of the construction site for local traders but it is important for them to receive feedback on any issues that might arise, so there is a new hotline to call: 1300 KSFREO.

While some concerns were raised by the traders present there was more of a sense of excited anticipation about the future of Fremantle and the much-needed economic recovery and making Freo a seven day a week shopping destination.

Fremantle Silverleaf director Gerard O’Brien was also at the forum and will have picked up some tips on how to proceed with the very important Woolstores shopping centre site development. Plans for that should be debated at Fremantle Council in the next month or so.

I personally feel like a child that has to wait before it is allowed to open his Christmas presents. I can only see good and positive things coming out of all the development in Fremantle. More people living, working and visiting the inner city will be fantastic!

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on EXCITING FREMANTLE KINGS SQUARE PROJECT

NEW FREO CIVIC CENTRE GOOD FOR HERITAGE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on June 28, 2017

 

kings square_lr_1498613599015

 

An independent report by heritage experts Griffiths Architects has concluded that the new City of Fremantle civic building at Kings Square has a ‘favourable effect on heritage’ by providing strong interactions between the historic Fremantle Town Hall and the civic and community functions of the new building.

The soon-to-be-built $50m administration and library building will enhance the important heritage aspects of Fremantle’s Kings Square according to the recently received heritage impact statement.

The report advises the new building will help return the town hall to prominence by reintegrating the town hall back into the centre of civic life:

The overall presentation of the town hall, civic functions and administration will be visually enhanced by a more integrated 21st century building that relates well to the town hall, Kings Square and William Street and Newman Court.

The changes will reintegrate the town hall back into day-to-day city life, provide proper connections to services and lift areas and ensure that contemporary requirements that can be so damaging to historic buildings are located in the new building.

Fremantle Council wanted a long-term approach in determining the design for the new building and that it must stand the test of time to last 100 years or more to become Fremantle’s future heritage.

Council weighed up all the information and decided a full redevelopment rather than a refurbishment of the existing building would be best to meet the long-term needs of the Fremantle community.

The Griffiths Architects report was critical of the current building, saying it had failed to make a positive contribution to the urban setting of Kings Square, was intrusive, dislocated the town hall from its administrative functions and was past its useful life.

The current building is inefficient from an environmental and operating cost perspective, suffers from concrete cancer, has significant asbestos contamination issues and does not meet legal disability access requirements.

I don’t believe Fremantle Council has decided yet if it will add a third floor to the new Civic Centre, but I think it would be remiss, and Council would fail in their duty, if they did not plan for the future of a larger Fremantle, when there is little doubt that Fremantle is growing and local government reform through amalgamations will happen in the not too distant future.

The Kings Square Project will be a huge game-changer for Fremantle and change our fortunes for the better. I can’t wait for it to start!!

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on NEW FREO CIVIC CENTRE GOOD FOR HERITAGE

KINGS SQUARE COMMUNITY INFO SESSIONS

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on June 17, 2017

 

The most important city centre redevelopment in a generation is about to begin which will see the heart of Fremantle transformed into a vibrant community, retail and commercial hub in coming years.

Over the coming weeks, the mayor and our local councillors will be heading to the suburbs to show what the $270m Kings Square Renewal project involves, its benefits, how long it will take and what it will mean for you. This is your opportunity to ask questions face-to-face with your local elected members.

The upcoming precinct presentations are:

Hilton: Tuesday 20 June, 6.45 pm at Fremantle PCYC (Arts Space) (34 Paget Street Hilton).
North Fremantle: Thursday 22 June, 6.00 pm at North Fremantle Community Hall (2 Thompson Road North Fremantle).
City: Saturday 24 June, 11.30 am at Fremantle Arts Centre (1 Finnerty Street Fremantle).
South Beach Community Group and South Fremantle: Sunday 25 June, 4.00 pm at The Meeting Place Community Centre (245 South Terrace South Fremantle)
Hilton: Tuesday 27 June, 6.30 pm at Samson Recreation Centre (44 Mc Combe Avenue Samson)
Fremantle Inner City Residents Association: Tuesday 4 July, 7.00 pm at a venue to be confirmed.
White Gum Valley, Gibson Park and Beaconsfield: Tuesday 4 July, 7.30 pm at White Gum Valley Primary School (29 Hope Street White Gum Valley).
Fremantle Society: Tuesday 18 July, 7.00 pm at The Meeting Place Community Centre (245 South Terrace South Fremantle.

Comments Off on KINGS SQUARE COMMUNITY INFO SESSIONS

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

SIRONA APPOINTS PROBUILD FOR KINGS SQUARE

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on May 16, 2017

kings-square_lr

SIRONA CAPITAL has appointed national building company ProBuild for the $ 270 million Fremantle Kings Square Project. Building will commence in August this year.

ProBuild has been signed up for several major construction jobs in Perth recently and is already busy with building the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Elizabeth Quay.

I believe it is great news for Fremantle and will truly change our city’s fortunes for the better.

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on SIRONA APPOINTS PROBUILD FOR KINGS SQUARE

WONDERFUL FREO TOWNHALL

Posted in city of fremantle, heritage, kings square, tourism, western australia by freoview on April 11, 2017

 

I can’t get enough of it! What a wonderful sight the newly restored Fremantle Townhall is.

Go and have a look at how detailed the conservation work has been and what a fantastic job has been done.

Roel Loopers

 

SUPPORT FREO TRADERS DURING DEVELOPMENT

Posted in cafe, city of fremantle, development, kings square by freoview on April 5, 2017

The problems traders in Scarborough face, and business closures because of the massive redevelopment there, sends a message to Fremantle Council to be pro-active and assists retailers and the hospitality industry over the next 3 years during the Kings Square project development that will have serious short-term negative implications for businesses in the area.

While the City of Fremantle is not exactly rolling in money it might be a good idea to stop charging cafes alfresco fees during the development period and also to allow retailers to move out into the streets to show their wares.

Free parking at the Parry Street and Beach Street carparks could also be a consideration for the start of the week to try to support our local traders. If they can hang in there for the next three years they will all benefit from an invigorated Freo economy with new hotels opening, new office workers coming to Fremantle and many more people residing in the inner city. The long-term future for Fremantle is a very good one and well worth investing in!

We don’t want more shop closures, vacant buildings and people going broke, so we need to support them as well as we can. Let’s start talking about it now as a priority!

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on SUPPORT FREO TRADERS DURING DEVELOPMENT

TREASURER RINGS ALARM BELLS FOR KINGS SQUARE

 

The announcement at a function on Friday night by new Western Australian Treasurer Ben Wyatt that the state government will not go ahead with the relocation of government departments because of the financial implications is very worrying for Fremantle and should send alarm bells ringing at the City of Fremantle.

Wyatt said that he had to make substantial savings to fix the budget and that the state unfortunately does not have the money for expensive relocations. The new government was in favour of the decentralisation of the workforce away from the Perth CBD but it would be better to reduce public servant staff numbers through early redundancy, increase efficiency and productivity, and reduce duplications of services, creating smaller offices, as the state could not afford the very costly relocation of departments in the near future because of the dire financial state of Western Australia.

The move of Department of Housing and other departments to Fremantle is essential for the success of the Fremantle Kings Square project and if this is cancelled or substantially delayed by the new Labor government it will have a huge negative impact for Fremantle.

The question is if Sirona Capital can afford to go ahead with the project if the lease with state government departments is ripped up, or could this be the end of Freo’s big dream of economic recovery through the biggest inner city project in many decades?

This is very worrying news at the start of the month where the demolition of the Queensgate building was due to start. I for one hope the exciting Kings Square project will progress as planned and that solutions will be found fast if Wyatt’s assertions are correct.

Many in the Fremantle community have questioned the need for a new expensive Civic Centre at Kings Square and no doubt they would be delighted if the project did not go ahead, but I believe it would be very disappointing if our city square is not modernised and activated.

Roel Loopers

%d bloggers like this: