Two big new developments in the Fremantle CBD are not far from reality. My ears are always on the ground and my eyes on the ball to pick up interesting news on the Freo grapevine and this news is huge!
It hear the derelict woolstores building opposite Clancy’s could be developed in the not too far distance. My informants tell me that Sirona Capital has shown interest in developing the heritage-listed building opposite Princess May Park that is owned by Marilyn New, the former owner of the Esplanade Hotel.
This eyesore has been an embarrassment for decades for Fremantle residents and businesses and a very ugly welcome sign for cruise ship passengers, so it would be great to see it developed and the building occupied again.
There will be a meeting about the plans at Hotel Australia next week, but I doubt it will be a public meeting.
In other news I hear that Freo developers Silverleaf have submitted their proposal to the City of Fremantle for a mixed development on the Woolstores shopping centre site at Cantonment Street.
The initial plans were not very good I have been told and the developers got frustrated having to change them several times while working with CoF planning officers and the Design Advisory Committee, but one elected member told me that the submitted plans “look surprisingly good.”
Planning Scheme Amendment 49 for that specific location allows for up to 11 storeys, if my memory is correct, so expect the proposal to be for a very large and high development.
My understanding is that the development will happen in two stages and that it involves a hotel, commercial and residential floor space and ground-level retail, so stay tuned.
The development of these two major sites in the East CBD is huge, especially in context of the planned and approved Hilton Doubletree, Spotlight and former Energy Museum sites developments.
The modernisation of that part of the inner city that is known as ‘Little Beirut’ will greatly enhance Fremantle’s tourism and retail potential and is another significant step forward to a prosperous future for our city.
While WA is having a state election in five days here in Fremantle the knives are already out for the October Council election that includes electing a new Mayor.
Although Mayor Brad Pettitt has yet to announce if he will be standing and try to get another four years, former Mayor Peter Tagliaferri launched a major attack on Petitt in the Fremantle Herald, that was strongly criticised by Councillor Jon Strachan on his blog.
Strachan told ‘Tags’ that he had served under him and Pettitt and that the leadership of the two Mayors was poles apart. Strachan claims there was “deep division” in the Tagliaferri Council while the Pettitt Council professionally works together.
Strachan writes that during the greatest economic boom in W.A. Mayor Tagliaferri had failed to attract investment into Fremantle.
It is evident from all the building sites around the Fremantle CBD that the present Council headed by Mayor Brad Pettitt has opened the doors of Freo wide and very substantial development is happening in the port city and much more in the pipeline.
Jon Strachan asked Peter Tagliaferri who his candidate for Mayor will be in October. I wonder if it could be someone from the Labor party?
There are rumours abound that former state politician Adele Carles might put her hand up, but time will tell and we’ll need to wait and see if Pettitt wants to continue with the very-demanding and highly-criticised job.
On a personal note; although I have been asked by many Freo residents to stand for Council I will not contest the October election!
The future of the DADAA building at Beach Street opposite the East Street Jetty will not be known for at least half a year if the FPOL Committee of the City of Fremantle decides this Wednesday to allow an ‘Eldership’ of Noongar people to explore options for an Aboriginal cultural centre there that would replace the unsuccessful Walyalup centre at Arthur’s Head.
The agenda item seeks Council’s consideration to support a process by a local group of Noongar Elders to develop a proposal to enable them to be in a position to seek access via a lease to the 21 Beach Street, Fremantle site for their purposes.
It is proposed that the ‘Eldership’ be given adequate time by delaying an Expression of Interest process for the lease of the building for a period of up to six months and that the local group be empowered to undertake any necessary community engagement and work to develop a proposal for consideration.
City officers recommend that up to $20,000 be made available to the group to support that process, including for the use of consultants or resources that may be required.
I am very disappointing that Brendan Moore the City of Fremantle manager of the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Arthur’s Head believes my criticism of the centre was directed at him.
I just bumped into him and he called me an arsehole and was extremely irate so it was not the right time to have a conversation with him about it.
But since my observations and criticsm of the centre were public on this blog I also want to stress again, as I have done previously, that my concerns are not with Brendan Moore but with the piecemeal handling and tokenism of Fremantle Council.
I have from the very beginning warned that the small pilot’s cottage was inappropriate for an Aboriginal centre and I questioned the lack of concept and focus of the centre.
Did the City want it to be an Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors or did they want it to be a community hub for our Noongar people? No one knows, so now they want to move the centre to the DADAA building at the East Street jetty without making it clear what they want to achieve. Brendan Moore is not to blame for that but Fremantle Councillors and Moore’s superiors are!
There is no doubt a huge challenge of getting local Aboriginal people working together because of the many family feuds and I can imagine Moore’s frustration about that as well.
Fremantle Council needs to stop feel-good tokenist gestures toward the Aboriginal people and put more substance into creating a true cultural centre, or even two. One for tourism and one a community meeting hub for Noongars.
None of my criticism was aimed at Brendan Moore and that is why I did not mention him by name before.
If Brendan feels I have personally attacked him I apologise for that as that was not at all my intention. I like Brendan. He is a good, professional and funny bloke. Kaya!
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 sale and development of the City of Fremantle Knutsford Street depot site is a bit of a conundrum for the City as ratepayers will rightly expect the best financial return for it, especially in light of the City’s very tight financial situation.
Council wants specific sustainability outcomes under the One Planet Living Framework, but experts indicate that might have a negative impact on the value of the property.
There are additional costs involved for developers and Landcorp, and they cite the WGV sustainable development and others as examples for that.
There are questions if the property market can bear the additional costs of OPLF development and still be competitive in a very tight residential market.
It is essential that Fremantle Council is totally transparent about this with the community as we can’t really afford to lose a few million dollars for ideological reasons.
I have once again had an exchange on Freo’s View with one of the readers about the accusation that most Fremantle Councillors just vote with Mayor Brad Pettitt. It is an urban myth that insults and defames our Elected Members and it is not based on facts.
Anyone who has been reading this blog for the last seven years knows that I am not an apologist for Fremantle Council or its Mayor and that I strongly criticise them whenever I believe it is warranted, but it is wrong that those who never or very rarely attend council meetings make these accusations against the very hard and diligent working Freo Councillors.
To claim that Fremantle Councillors most of the time vote en-bloc with the Mayor is absolute bullshit. I specifically use this strong word because this crap has been going on for far too long!
Those who make these accusations should get off their lazy bums and attend Council and committee meetings so that they can actually witness how our Councillors perform and how well they are informed. Listen to the statements they make, the questions they ask and the amendments they put forward.
Having an opinion based on utter ignorance is nothing else than malicious political point-scoring. It’s the kind of stuff Pauline Hanson does and Donald Trump calls ‘Alternative Facts’.
There is no doubt that Freo Councillors not always get it right and that some residents believe they are not listened to. It is a worry to me sometimes that there seems to be a priority on One Planet issues when money could be spent better elsewhere, but after decades of stagnation we finally see significant development happening in the CBD that will make a huge positive long-term economic difference to our city and help our traders.
I too get frustrated and annoyed when Council is inconsistent and when the administration is slack, but the one thing I know absolutely for sure is that all the thirteen Elected Members make up their own mind on how they are going to vote and that the vast majority of them are very well-informed and do their home work. They deserve credit for that, instead of the nasty innuendo that they are mere puppets of the Mayor.
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 is often difficult to write critical articles on my blog because Fremantle is a small community and more like a family to me and a place where I have a lot of friends.
While I don’t mind to stir the pot a bit now and then I don’t enjoy negativity, but sometimes there is no other way and what is happening at the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is such a case.
The thought bubble of making one of our state’s most significant historic precincts into an arts precinct to activate it was flawed from the start and the officers somehow have to implement what is not practical and never was a good idea in the first place.
Small art businesses have failed at Captain’s Lane while the very professional Glen Cowans photography gallery bravely soldiers on offering outstanding photo art. The Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre has also failed and the art that has been on offer in the other cottages was mediocre, to say it kindly.
Now the next thought bubble has arrived and the No 10 cottage at Captain’s Lane will be included in the City’s Studios Program as low-cost non-commercial work spaces.
The artists will not be required to open their doors to the public and only need to have an open door event every six months.
This will do absolutely nothing to help activate the area and is worse than it was when the Fremantle Pilots, Fremantle Society and Crookes family occupied the three cottages.
The Society held community events on the lawn and inside the cottage, the pilots were there 24/7 and so were the lovely family where the kids brought friends from Lance Holt School, and engaged with visitors to Arthur’s Head.
What the City of Fremantle has created is a night-time ghost town that has attracted homeless people who defecate in the backyards, and during the day and weekends it is often only the Glen Cowans Gallery that is open to the public.
In the meantime the Roundhouse that receives 130,000 visitors a year is struggling to get support from the City and we have now been waiting for well over a year to get power into the Roundhouse so we can start applying for funds for stunning new interactive displays. We are activating the historic area, but no one at Fremantle Council gives a rat’s arse about that, because it is more important to continue with the flawed art precinct concept.
Down at J Shed the artists have been denied access to the No 1 studio to use it as exhibition space during the Sculpture@Bathers show , but I hear the City will announce today who is moving in till July, when Sunset Events is supposed to start some kind of business there.
And let me make this very clear! I do not blame the officers who really try very hard, but it is the ineptness and piecemeal governance of the area by Fremantle Council that really pisses me off!
The lease of the DADAA premises at Beach Street opposite the East Street jetty was on the Fremantle Council agenda on Wednesday.
DADAA is moving into the former Boys School at Princess May Park and the officers wanted an Expressions of Interest period to find out which community groups are interested in leasing the building.
Speakers from arts, disability and the RSL expressed an interest in moving into the building, but a motion by Councillor Pemberton that there should be a three-months period to see if the building would be better suited for the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre than the present one at Arthur’s Head did get support from her fellow Councillors.
I do agree with Pemberton’s sentiment that Noongar people who are still suffering from multi-generational trauma deserve and need support to lift them to a same level playing field as other community groups. However that support was already there and the City invested $ 200,000 a year for two years in the Walyalup centre at Mrs Trivett Lane that got very little support from the Noongar community and basically failed to make any impact at all.
It was clear from the beginning that it would be very hard to make it successful because of family feuding in the Noongar community. The manager of the centre told me he had even considered a roster so certain families could use the centre on some days, and some on other days, because they would not be willing to share the space on the same days.
We know that there is constant disagreement who is allowed to speak or not for certain parts of the Perth metro region with some families claiming to be the only descendants of Yagan while other families claim they are also direct descendants of the great Noongar warrior.
This will affect the success of the Walyalup centre no matter if it is at Arthur’ Head or near Cantonment Hill. An EOI period to find an Aboriginal group to manage the existing Walyalup centre has failed so far and it is unlikely that the City will be able to find a Noongar group willing to pay the $ 16,000.00 rent per annum for leasing the Beach Street building.
My concern is that we will have a period where other community groups will be excluded from bidding for the DADAA building at Beach Street while the City is engaging with Noongar elders about the prospect of them running an autonomous cultural community centre.
We know from past experience that this will be a long drawn-out process that no doubt will require money to pay consultants and those attending meetings with no guarantee whatsoever that there will be a positive outcome and good community use for the Beach Street building.
In the meantime the Arthur Head Aboriginal cultural centre will remain a flop and closed most days and won’t be put back for Expressions of Interest, although Arts on the Move, who expressed interest in the DADAA building, appears to be a perfect tenant for the Bathers Beach Art Precinct building.
It is imperative that the City of Fremantle does not allow the Noongar consultation to go further than three months as it would hold back the opportunity for other groups to move in, in case Noongar elders can’t come to an agreement on who and how to run the Walyalup centre in the new location.
While I deeply respect Aboriginal culture the City needs to be realistic about the fact that the DADAA building can’t be allowed to be vacant for too long as that will attract anti social behaviour and homeless people to the building, and the same applies to the Walyalup Centre at Arthur’s Head.
What also should be considered is if a city centre location is really the best for a Noongar community centre as not many Aboriginal people live in the CBD. Maybe a building in the Hilton/White Gum Valley area would be more appropriate if the centre is not meant to be a cultural centre for overseas and Wadjela visitors.
The Noongar community will need to make a few good decisions fast if they are genuinely interested in managing a community centre. Kaya!