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!
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.
The old Moreton Bay fig tree at Fremantle’s Kings Square in not in a great condition and arborists are monitoring it carefully.
Experts say soil contamination is to blame for it, not strangulation by the Christmas Tree wires, as alleged by the Fremantle Society.
The plane trees at Kings Square are all being prepared for relocation and are standing in a puddle of muddy water to make them stronger for the journey.
The demolition of the Queensgate building is starting in April and that will be the commencement of the Kings Square Project.
Sirona Capital has requested that the settlement with the City of Fremantle of the sale of the Spicer site on the corner of William and Henderson streets will be delayed for 12 months to May 9, 2018.
The site was sold to Sirona for $ 6.65 million and according to expert advise the market value of the property has remained the same.
The Spicer site development is part of the Kings Square Project where Sirona develops the former Myer and Queensgate buildings, build a new Civic Centre and develop the Spicer site with a five-storey building.
It would probably be a big task for any developer to do all that development in the same area at the same time, so Council will probably approve the settlement delay at Wednesday’s full Council meeting.
Above another historic photo taken from the top of the Townhall that shows the Kings Square and Fremantle Oval Project development areas, and of course the Henderson Street Courthouse/Police precinct will also be developed by Silverleaf.
Scaffolding will gradually come down from next week on the Fremantle Townhall.
I was given an exterior tour of the conservation works on Friday by City of Fremantle heritage coordinator architect Alan Kelsall and heritage project officer Gena Binet and Zac of the building contractors and was very impressed with the very detailed and substantial work involved in the $ 3.1 million project.
The Townhall project is the largest conservation work the city has ever undertaken and was necessary because of the deterioration of the building due to paint that did not allow the building to breath and suffocated the building, hence salt and moisture had badly damaged large areas.
Don’t expect a brightly-painted building as it has been brought back to its original stucco look of 1887.
About the town hall restoration
Before current restorative works were undertaken it had been almost thirty years since the last major capital expenditure on the Fremantle Town Hall.
Since mid-2016 a large team of skilled stonemasons, plasterers, lead workers and slate roofers with specialist traditional skills have transformed the exterior of the town hall building using traditional building methods.
Key elements such as the roof cladding and drainage systems needed to be replaced urgently to protect the building from ongoing deterioration prevent the loss of culturally significant features and address concerns about public safety.
Gutters and downpipes were too small to cope with current extreme weather events and have led to ongoing damage to the interior of the building. These elements have all been enlarged.
There were also ongoing issues caused by inappropriate surface treatments and repairs to masonry elements carried out in the1950s–60s. At this time there was little understanding of best practice conservation which had unfortunately led to the ongoing deterioration of masonry, embedded steel and timbers and decorative stucco work in the town hall.
During the works, it was discovered some inaccessible parts of the building were in worse condition than expected and extra works were required. To prevent further deterioration of the building and to make use of scaffolding already in place for the current restoration works, it was more efficient and cost effective to complete these additional works now.
P.S. Stunning views from the top of the Townhall so I will post some scenic photos of Fremantle next week and have requested a rooftop bar and a granny flat for me to be included in the renovations.
It is quite exiting to see the first preliminary work for the Fremantle Kings Square Project with arborists working on the relocation of the seven plane trees.
Others are conducting open heart surgery on the old Moreton Bay Fig tree that is home to the Christmas tree. The tree has shown signs of distress, but that might just be old age.
No doubt the arborists will advise the City of Fremantle what is wrong with it.
I support the idea by the City of Fremantle of adding a third commercial floor to the new Civic Centre at Kings Square. I believe that is good long-term planning and caters for the future, while also adding long-term revenue for the City.
Architecturally it will also give the architects more chance of creating a more visually appealing vertical building that compliments the Townhall better.
When council amalgamations finally happen, well after my lifetime, and Fremantle is a much bigger city that requires more staff, we don’t have to make expensive additions, but already have the space to accommodate them.
The financial sustainability of Fremantle is a worry though and Council needs to ruthlessly prioritise as we don’t want to end up with a Colin Barnett-like mega debt.
Parking revenue alone has gone down by over $ 743,500 and parking infringements were also down by some $ 300,000, so that is over a million dollars of lost revenue, while the City has got big and expensive plans for Kings Square, Fremantle Oval, Cantonment Hill and others.
On the up side we should be making millions of dollars out of the sale of the Knutsford Street depot site in the very near future.
It appears that Premier Colin Barnett and the City of Fremantle engaged in a bit of ‘alternative facts’ spin when they announced late last year that 1,500 state government staff would relocate to Fremantle to the Kings Square project.
A reliable source informs me that nearly one-third of them will relocate from Marine House opposite the Esplanade Hotel in Essex Street, so they are already in Fremantle and will only move one kilometre further east.
I hear marine-related officers are not too happy about it as it will take them further away from their boats in the Fishing Boat Harbour.
Claims by the Fremantle Society that the City of Fremantle is insolvent were strongly rejected as ridiculous by Deputy Mayor Dave Coggin at the Ordinary Council meeting on Wednesday. Coggin demanded that the Society would send him the report by the certified public accountant they claim had provided the Fremantle Society with the advise that the City was technically insolvent.
Another ridiculous claim by the Fremantle Society was the lack of community consultation on the Kings Square Project.
I don’t know where these people were when Planning Scheme Amendment 49 was debated and the Fremantle Society under my presidency had a scale model in shopping centres to show the proposed heights, which we rejected and wanted lowered, but we did not succeed.
There was also extensive community consultation on the Kings Square development and even a Citizen Jury which I addressed on behalf of the Society, and I went to all the other community meetings to make suggestions. One outcome of that was that Newman Court now no longer will have vehicular access and parking.
Also ridiculous is the expectation that a private developer like Sirona Capital would make the roof tops of the two new buildings accessible to the public. Who is going to pay for security and public liability and how many privately owned buildings in the Perth CBD have public roof top access?
More ridiculousness in the claim that Fremantle Council has a conflict of interest in recommending to JDAP approval for the two Kings Square buildings. The City is not the decision-making authority, and as Councillor Doug Thompson pointed out as a body Council cannot have a conflict of interest or perception of that, but individual Councillors need to make their own decision if they believe they do have a conflict of or financial interest, which none of them declared.
Saying that Council cannot debate the development of a property they have sold would mean for example Council could not make planning approval for the Hilton Doubletree hotel development on the Point Street carpark site the City sold.
Councillor Rachel Pemberton said Sirona Capital was very serious about creating the best possible outcome and had even instigated workshops to improve the building design and enhance the character of the inner city. High calibre people from all sections of the community had attended the Sirona workshops and we will get an outcome we all will be proud of, Pemberton said.
Planning officers told Council and the public gallery that the developers had made significant changes over the last three months in collaboration with the Design Advisory Committee and the DAC now believed the design was at a stage where it was acceptable for them to recommend approval, but more changes would be required and be part of the City’s recommendation to JDAP.