What a gorgeous autumn day it is in Freo paradise this Monday!
The beautiful cruise ship ARTANIA is in Fremantle Port and can be seen from Market Street as it is at berth at C Shed just behind the railway station.
The ship was built in Finland and has 595 passenger cabins, 8 decks, 7 bars, 3 restaurants and 2 swimming pools.
Welcome to Freo!
This photo taken from the top of the Fremantle Townhall on Friday has historic significance for Fremantle as the inner east CBD will look very different in a few years from now with major development plans for the area.
In about five years we will see the new Woolstores shopping centre commercial, hotel and student development by Silverleaf, the Point Street Hilton Doubletree hotel project, and the eight-storey residential development of the former Spotlight building, and just beyond that the residential development next to the Hotel Australia at Beach Street.
There was a rather exciting BID-Business Improvement District meeting at the National Hotel on Wednesday evening that spelled out the future of the Fremantle inner city, and I was very impressed.
Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was important that the business community engaged with the City and that they went on the journey together.
Pettitt admitted the next 3 years are going to be challenging for inner city traders because of the disruptions caused by the massive development at Kings Square and elsewhere in the CBD.
The Mayor said it was disappointing that the Hilton Doubletree hotel development on the Point Street carpark site will now only start in the first quarter of next year, so that is another lengthy delay.
The more I see of Gerard O’Brien, the boss of Fremantle developers Silverleaf, the more I like his no-nonsense approach and straight-forward message that Fremantle only has a three-year window before Garden City will more than double in size.
“We need to keep moving as we have suffered big time in Fremantle”, O’Brien said. “We need to get our act together and support each other as a community and Council. It needs to be a team effort!”
Silverleaf has huge plans for Fremantle and O’Brien said that they are only the custodians and want to leave something behind that all of Freo can be proud off, not just a glass box.
O’Brien then revealed his plans for the Woolstores shopping centre site and that is very exciting for Fremantle. The development is 26,000 square metres.
There will be an Adina Hotel, commercial floorspace and -hallelujah!- student accommodation! Plus a shopping centre at ground level and underground parking.
Coles will keep trading during the construction period and Gerard O’Brien believed that was essential to keep attracting shoppers into the inner city.
O’Brien said the design of the building pays tribute to the heritage and pays homage to the environment the new building will be in.
I quite like the old&new architecture with red bricks at ground level and vertical cladding similar to the new Perth library and theatre buildings, while the levels above that are very modern, but quite striking and minimalist.
The entire roof will be solar panels, which O’Brien said was a good investment, while the windows will be double-glazed and have new technology in them that will keep out the sun and keep the interior cool. I am impressed!
Silverleaf will also be developing “ the beautiful piece of history” former police and courthouse complex and Warders Cottages at Henderson Street into three-star history tourist accommodation with 64 rooms. It will also have a market place open space and four different concepts that are all about tourism.
New BID CEO Tim Milsom said the transformation of Fremantle is about to happen and that Silverleaf could develop anywhere in the world but chooses to do so in Fremantle.
Milsom said BID have plans for a creative hub and an aspirational business mix but O’Brien said that Fremantle has enough specialty stores.
Milsom said we need to find out from the community and visitors what is missing in Fremantle and what will bring people back. For example there is no hardware store in Freo anymore.
There is no bakery or butcher or corner deli in the CBD either, but more than a dozen new shops will open in Fremantle soon, so that is more good news.
Many 6160 are moving from the former Myer building at Kings Square to the former Spotlight building next to Target and are due to open next week.
I put my neck on the line and say that this is very good news for Fremantle and that we are on the right track to create a great vibrant city where hundreds of tourists will stay over night, eat, drink and shop and where we will finally have many students living in the inner city.
I am surprised to hear Fremantle Council has again deferred a decision about extending Fremantle BID-Business Improvement District.
Surely by now Council should have made up their mind if BID is good for Fremantle retailers or if it is better to handle all the marketing in-house at the CoF’s Economic Development and Marketing Department. I have no doubt Director Tom Griffiths will have strong views on this and Councillors should listen to his expert advise.
It is interesting that the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce opposes the continuation of BID, which must be a clear sign that the two organisations did not work and communicate well together, but the Chamber is also critical about just about everything the City is doing, so there is a lot of room for improvement there on all sides.
I am not sure what it actually is the Chamber of Commerce does for traders, especially smaller ones in Fremantle, as their main activity seems to be to organise parties. One has to wonder if networking between members is going to benefit any of the small retailers or cafes.
Is a Sparkling&Oysters Twilight Sail, Business Luncheon, Sundowner with Westpac, or Tourism Industry Sundowner with Quest really doing anything to promote, support and market Fremantle retailers to potential customers?
For BID to survive though and get support from the City of Fremantle and CBD businesses it needs to have a clear concept and understanding of what its role is.
I for one don’t believe BID should be organising major events, as the CoF and external event organisers already do that. But it should be one of BID’s roles to connect Freo businesses with events or run promotional events concurrently with major events in the CBD. An early weekdays loyalty card/App system might also attract more shoppers into town at the start of the week.
One thing BID and or the City of Fremantle also could do is promote Fremantle in Perth. A pop-up shop near the railway station there would be an idea, or people with sandwich boards, as would be a pop-up Visitor Centre at Pioneer Park on event days and when cruise ships arrive in Fremantle Port. We need to do more little things better and more often.
The best way to move forward is to get rid of egos and for BID, the Chamber and the City to work closer together for the benefit of all Freo businesses.
BID’s new CEO Tim Milsom is a hands on man with a can do attitude and that is the positive energy we need and want in Fremantle, so why not do a one-year trial period at least to see if Milsom can reinvigorate BID.
The beautiful Silver Whisper cruise ship is in Fremantle harbour but at the unusual location of C Shed, not the Passenger Terminal.
I believe Freo is due for many cruiseliners in the next weeks, which is great as it has been almost eerie quiet in town lately.
The new piazza at the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour is very slowly taking shape. The progress of it has been slow and frustrating but the outcome should be good for Fremantle and tourism.
One of the things I very much enjoy is showing people around Fremantle and a few of the hidden treasures they might not otherwise discover, so today I spent two hours with the lovely Italian Elisabetta and Matilda.
Matilda lives in Freo and runs the cute fashion boutique and Birkenstock outlet Creato a Mano at Marine Parade and her husband Roberto runs the equally cute Galleria D’Arte West End just a few metres awy, so go and check them out!
Elisabetta though lives in beautiful Rome, so hence the need for a guided tour.
The Roundhouse and Arthur Head had to be the starting point and soon we walked into Bruce from Replants who is setting up a tree installation on Bathers Beach for the Sculpture@Bathers show which starts on the 24th of this month.
The former long jetty and ocean pool and the mortuary and kerosine store were clearly a must and gave me the opportunity to talk about the horrendous Rottnest Island indigenous Quod prison.
From there we wandered into Notre Dame University territory. We had a few sneak peeks inside some of the gorgeous adaptive reuse heritage buildings, the beautiful library and also the stunning Aboriginal art collection of UNDA. I recommend anyone to take a guided tour of the campus on Friday morning which UNDA organises. Contact them to book it!
The flat where FBI boss J Edgar Hoover lived, which is now part of Kerry Hill architects in Mouat Street, is also largely unknown. Kerry Hill by the way designed the new City of Fremantle Civic Centre at Kings Square.
I showed my guests the PS Art Space and studios upstairs, the former Police Station at Victoria Quay and the historic artworks inside B Shed, even the toilets, and wandered around the Maritime Museum under the watchful eyes of a lone Nankeen heron.
The old submarine, the connection to Gallipoli and the migrant wall were a talking point for us that connected Freo to Europe.
From there past the J Shed art studios and back through the Whalers Tunnel for a nice iced coffee at my friends at Chalkys in the former Trams Building.
What is there not to love about Freo. So happy I live here!