On the surface Subiaco is just about perfect for a thriving retail economy, but business owners are not at all happy and there are a large number of vacant shops along Rokeby Road and Hay Street.
Why is that when all the experts have been asking for exactly what Subiaco has been doing? This is a city at a busy railway station that has been highly-developed over the last ten years and added massive commercial office and residential space around the CBD, but businesses have been struggling and closing down for years. But all those city planners, placemakers and transformational movers keep telling us that all we need to do to have a great retail economy is to get more residents and office accommodation and magic will happen. Not so, it appears, if we take Subi as an example of where reality does not support the theory.
My question then is what went wrong in Subiaco and what the City of Fremantle wants to do differently so that we can avoid getting the same unsatisfactory outcome as Subi? At the moment our Freo CBD plans are much like those of Subi; build more office space, get more residents living in the inner city and boost the retail economy that way, and like Subi we are also getting a hotel or two.
It is not working for Subi retailers, who were holding an emergency meeting with their Council last week, so what can we in Fremantle learn from it and do better? It is better to have that debate now when there is still time to change some of the development plans, in case there are better alternatives.