I have received some great news about the Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle from a well-informed source.
According to my source Saracen Properties is 99% on the way of purchasing the building from the State Government. The purchase and possession will be finalised within the next 90 days.
Saracen has appointed well-known Fremantle architect Michael Patroni from Space Agency to do the interior and exterior development of the old building as well as the development of the vacant land behind the building.
Saracen has developed a Conservation Management Strategy that has been endorsed by the Heritage Council of W.A. The CMS ties them to refurbishing the building within a certain time period.
The company will immediately stabilise and clean up the building once the contract has been signed, so the decay will be stopped, until planning approval has been received and conservation and building can commence.
The disgraceful neglect of the beautiful historic Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle continues, which is unacceptable.
Every now and then we get to hear that a developer is taking over the building, but then nothing happens and the graffiti and neglect goes on.
Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk was very outspoken when she was in opposition, so now that she is a Cabinet Minister she has to talk to her colleagues and do something about the unacceptable eyesore urgently.
Next to the old hotel the former Lauder&Howard building is being developed respectfully, so it’s time to walk the talk Labor government!
Anyone who believes that this is appropriate development for Pakenham Street in Fremantle’s historic West End must have rocks in their head and dollar signs blinding their vision.
This is disrespectful rubbish that has no place in a street of stunning facades and in a historically very significant and unique heritage precinct.
Those who take our history for granted assist in helping to destroy our future.
With so much development going on and planned for Fremantle I wonder if the City has diligently and professionally been recording streetscapes in the CBD so that there are historic photographic records of what the inner city looked like before the rejuvenating facelift it is receiving at the moment.
Adelaide, Queen Victoria, Cantonment, Beach streets and others in the area will have a totally new look in a few years from now and so will Kings Square and the Fremantle Oval precinct, so it is essential that good photos are taken, so that future generations will be able to compare old and new Freo.
It is a very important duty of government to record history so don’t neglect to do it City of Fremantle!
Architect Carl Payne sent a comment to this blog about the article in the Fremantle Herald about yet another terrible development proposal for Fremantle’s West End. See the post below this one for it!
I believe Carls thoughts are very important so I am posting them here as well for those people who do not read the comments:
We really need to start thinking about what the West End of Fremantle is, in an Australian context.
It is a remarkably complete 19th Century urbanscape, which retains the essence of what this means. It’s a living museum; and this is important, because it is a functioning and workable collection of buildings that is rare in 21st century Australia.
Many overseas towns and cities can boast similar precincts; but few in Australia can. This is the first important point.
The second thing is that this is crucial because it has both economic and cultural advantages. The economic growth that Perth saw in the 60s; 70s; and 80s would have destroyed Fremantle’s West End if it had occurred here as it did in the State’s capital. We now have a chance to positively build on the magnificent streetscape we have inherited and – mostly – conserved. This can create significant economic advantages, because there is no doubt that Fremantle is now poised to grow its already significant Tourism marketplace.
But this is only part of the importance of the West End. It is also a cultural reminder for all of us who live here. It is a symbol of our past achievements. Cultures that demolish their past, weaken their future; they lose contact with their heritage, in both a physical and an emotional way. And adding a couple of floors to an old West End building destroys its integrity; it alters the streetscape; and it alters the skyline.
Look over Fremantle from the monument; or from the Town Hall; or from the Roundhouse. The roof-tops; and the old wall-parapet tops, are part of the heritage streetscape. They are what conservation is all about. We are talking about very fragile things here; connections; relationships; urban-scapes that are very easily lost.
Here another photo taken from the top of the Fremantle Townhall from the National Hotel to the Maritime Museum and Indian Ocean.
We live in a very beautiful and unique historic city and we need to protect the character of the West End at all cost while supporting and encouraging excellent development in the East of the CBD.
Here another scenic shot taken from the Fremantle Townhall last Friday with the new Atwell Arcade building prominently in the foreground.
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.
Check out the new on-line FREMANTLE SHIPPING NEWS magazine: http://fremantleshippingnews.com.au. I think it is very good and a great addition to local Freo media.
It’s not just about the port and maritime issues but about Fremantle lifestyle, food, heritage, architecture, art, etc.
FSN aims to be an online magazine about today’s Fremantle, with content and imagery provided, as much as possible, by interested locals.
The idea for the magazine was born out of daily drives past Fremantle Port and admiring and wondering about the activity of the coming and going ships.
The magazine is run by Fremantle local Michael Barker with assistance from local designers Superminimal, a number of Freo volunteer writers and photographers.
They welcome contact from anyone who would like to contribute to the magazine.
They have a subscribe button at the bottom of the webpage. Subscibers will receive an email notifying them of new articles.
FSH also have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fremantleshippingnews/ which will promote new content and an instagram page https://www.instagram.com/fremantleshippingnews/ which will feature shipping and ‘Seen in Freo’ images.
In a rather petulant Thinking Allowed in the Fremantle Herald today Dean Fehlberg, a partner at MCDF Architects, who designed the mediocre proposal for the new Notre Dame University School of Nursing at 3 High Street claims Fremantle Council rejected the development because it was influenced by emotion and agitation.
Does Fehlberg mean with agitation the genuine concerns raised by Fremantle residents and the Fremantle Society in submissions to Council, and does he mean with emotion that we are very passionate about heritage protection in Fremantle?
Fehlberg shows a hint of arrogance and severe lack of self-criticism when he compares the height of the proposed UNDA building with the gorgeous National Hotel, Pearse Building, Orient Hotel and Fremantle Hotel. These are all buildings of outstanding Goldrush period architecture and can in no way be compared to the unimaginative, boring and mediocre design proposal for the historic West End of Fremantle by the MCDF Architects.
The architects are no doubts also aware that the criticism about the height of the proposed building is because the planning rules for the West End Conservation Area only allow for three-storey buildings with an option of a fourth storey if the architecture is outstanding, which it isn’t!
Architect Fehlberg also criticises the Slavin Architects designed MSC building in Cliff Street because “it is all glass and flowing curved lines of steel with no masonry at all and without any precedence in the West End.”
Indeed Mr Fehlberg, and that makes the MSC building so delightfully unique, inspiring, creative and heritage of the future architecture, while your team ignores the heritage significance and beauty of the West End by proposing a very bland design. It does not add to the architectural greatness of the West End, but the MSC building does.
Dean Fehlberg writes in the Herald that he was very disappointed with the Fremantle Council level of debate….and disrespect shown for the opinion of the State Heritage Office and City’s Design Advisory Committee.
What concerns the community and Fremantle Councillors more is the disrespect shown by MCDF Architects for the unique beauty and historic significance of the West End and that the architects believe their non-creative boredom is appropriate next to the stunning Lionel Samson building and opposite the beautiful Fremantle Hotel building and in Western Australia’s most beautiful street.
Harsh self-criticism is a great way forward to becoming excellent at what one does, not acknowledging one’s own limitations means accepting mediocrity.