Freo's View

GIVE ME FREO OVER PERTH ANY TIME!

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, development, perth, retail, Uncategorized by freoview on May 22, 2018

 

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I lasted just over an hour in Perth this morning as I find the CBD there rather boring.

I was surprised how quiet it was and how many vagrants were lurking around, and there were ample retail vacancies and for lease signs all over the place. Buskers played amplified music way too loud and so did some of the cafes.

Most of the new buildings under construction are average or worse, and the inappropriateness in context to heritage buildings is staggering.

The saving grace was the gorgeous tranquil architecture of the Cadogan Singing School at St George’s cathedral, and the stunning new Perth Library where window cleaners were doing a high trapeze act.

So happy to be back in Fremantle. It’s far from perfect, but so much more beautiful than the Perth CBD.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE DESTINATION MARKETING COMMITTEE

Posted in city of fremantle, hospitality, local government, retail, shopping, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on May 21, 2018

 

I had the exclusive on Friday to announce that Linda Wayman had been appointed chair of the new Fremantle Destination Marketing advisory group, and today the City of Fremantle disclosed all the expert members, so here they are:

# Karl Bullers-owner of the National Hotel and chair of Fremantle BID.

# Olwyn Williams-CEO of Fremantle Chamber of Commerce.

# Abby McDowell-Marketing Manager of the Esplanade Hotel.

# Chris Lewis-Director of Fremantle Press.

# Paula Nelson-Director of Fremantle Prison.

# Kate Hullet- Director of MANY 2.0

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

SIGNIFICANT KINGS SQUARE MODERNISATION

 

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Once the London Plane Trees have been relocated the demolition of the City of Fremantle civic hall can start. This will take much longer than the demolition of the Queensgate building as there is asbestos removal involved, so it is estimated to take up to six months for the relatively small building.

The former Queensgate site is now nearly ready for three weeks of ground work and than the prefabricated elements will arrive and pop up fast, so that will be really exciting to watch.

The modernisation of Kings Square with a port themed children’s playground is very significant for Fremantle. It will change the way locals and visitors view and use our city square and will hopefully attract people here seven days a week, day and night.

Roel Loopers

CAN RETAIL DECLINE BE STOPPED?

 

Anyone blaming Fremantle Council for the decline in retail and the many vacant shops in our port city should take note of an article in The Guardian newspaper that reports that UK shoppers are deserting the ‘high street’ in greater numbers than during the 2009 recession.

The Guardian reports that several big brand retailers in the UK are in receivership with a massive number of shops closing.

High street visits declined 3.3% in April, according to the BRC-Springboard monthly tracker, which also highlighted nearly one in 10 town centre shops are lying empty. The drop in footfall came on the back of a disastrous performance in March, when shopper numbers declined by 6%. Taken together there has been an unprecedented 4.8% drop over the two months – a bigger decline than was recorded in the same months of 2009 when the UK was mired in recession.

The question developers in Fremantle need to ask if this trend can be turned around and if new city centre based shopping centres like the FOMO retail concept at Kings Square by Sirona Capital will attract more shoppers away from the urban sterile shopping centres, that are now also changing direction and want to recreate the town square in shopping centres to make them more appealing to the community.

Roel Loopers

FREO’S KINGS SQUARE WORK IN PROGRESS

 

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The demolition of the Queensgate building and part demolition of the former Myer building at Fremantle’s Kings Square is progressing rapidly.

One can now clearly see the back wall of the Queensgate carpark and the scaffolding along William Street is coming down as the demolition progresses.

I am not certain when the demolition of the civic centre will start and when building activities for the Kings Square Redevelopment Project will commence, so keen to receive an update on that from Sirona Capital and the City of Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

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CAN BID SURVIVE FREMANTLE DESTINATION MARKETING?

 

The future of the Fremantle Business District-BID is in doubt after the FPOL Committee of Fremantle last night approved the Destination Marketing Fremantle concept, which will see the additional differential rates CBD businesses pay go to the marketing department budget and no longer to BID.

It is very doubtful BID will be able to continue without funding from the City of Fremantle, although several councillors mentioned that there was a need for something like BID and that is had done grassroots work well.

There were public speakers in support of continuing BID and others supporting the new destination marketing strategy, but the consensus of the elected members was that a new marketing approach is needed and that BID was not the way forward.

Supporters for BID said BID was a lifeline and a voice for small retailers and that BID had businesses working together for the first time. That is true and nothing stops traders from continuing to work together in a kind of precinct format, I believe, so not all is lost and the good momentum BID created could continue.

BID wanted another 12 months extension and believed it could become self funding, but they had already been granted the extension and could not show they were raising enough money to be able to continue without council giving them the differential rates.

Councillors said this was not a debate about BID versus the destination marketing strategy but if Council wanted a new marketing approach for the city. It is not either or, Councillor Andrew Sullivan said. He also said the City needed to support the concept of BID and offer more support for retailers.

Councillor Rachel Pemberton said that we needed to acknowledge the incredible work BID had done and that BID was always about collaboration and grassroots level liaising with businesses, and that can continue.

Councillors agreed the City needed to try something different as the present marketing is not working and businesses are not happy with it.

Councillor Doug Thompson wanted to know before the item goes to full council next week who the marketing experts would be the marketing department wants on a panel of experts.

Councillor and FPOL chair Hannah Fitzhardinge said clarity had been lacking about what BID does and what the marketing department does.

I want to make one point that gets ignored at the Freo City marketing department and that is the lack of information the City sends out to tourist destinations in the city. More often than not the tourist guides at the Roundhouse are not informed about festivals and events, so they can’t send tourists to them. We have never had a poster or leaflets for example to promote the Winter Festival and other events that happen on the Esplanade. We have begged for info about the Hidden Treasures music festival, Street Arts Festival, etc.etc. We can’t even tell tourists what’s on at the Fremantle Arts Centre.

There is also no communication between the tourist destinations, so Roundhouse volunteers don’t know about special exhibitions or events at the Maritime Museum, Fremantle Prison, etc. That needs to be coordinated by the City’s marketing department and could be as easy as emailing a short list of what is on next week. It’s very good to get more people visiting Fremantle, but we need to be able to keep them here longer and tell them what else they can do.

Roel Loopers

BIG PROGRESS AT FREO’S KINGS SQUARE

 

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When it comes to the Fremantle Kings Square redevelopment project I am like a child waiting for my Christmas presents, so I wanted to see a bit more of what is happening and asked developer Sirona Capital for access to the site.

PROBUILD‘s Nick Croft showed me around on Wednesday afternoon, but unfortunately the photos I hoped to get, looking down into the big demolition site from the adjacent roofs, were not possible because of health&safety regulations. The hero shot from ground level was one taken prior to my visit by Nick on his mobile phone and I thank him for sharing it here on Freo’s View.

The roof of the former MYER building has now also come down, so that later on two new storeys can be added, and inside the building is stripped back to just its concrete skeleton.

The Queensgate building’s William Street facade is now also being pulled back and in about ten days the facade of the Myer building at Queen Street will come down.

I feel sorry for the traders who are negatively impacted by all this, but sometimes in life we need to acknowledge that the big picture has priority over individuals and individual businesses.

I just hope they can all hang in there and hopefully reap the benefits of a rejuvenated inner city in less than two years from now. Good luck to you all!!

Roel Loopers

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THE YEAR WE HAD IN FREMANTLE

Posted in aboriginal, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on December 21, 2017

 

Christmas is only fours sleeps away and the year has just ten days left, so this is a good time to reflect on what kind of year it was for Fremantle. I do this randomly as important issues come to my mind.

The October local government election was a resounding rebuke for the right-leaning very vocal social media negativity, with all the sitting members re-elected. I find it hard to argue that this is not a vote of confidence in the plans and policies Fremantle Council has implemented. City ward even elected a new Green councillor.

The positivity and negativity of massive planned development is a fine line between a stunning modern Fremantle CBD and an aesthetic disaster that could kill our city’s unique heritage character.

Quite a few new hotels are in the pipeline and that will be good to attract more tourism and for visitors to stay overnight, but the many plans for more taverns in the inner city are a worry.

The Kings Square Project is finally underway and will be the game-changer Fremantle desperately needs, and the new FOMO retail concept by Sirona Capital sounds very exciting.

The change of Australia Day celebrations on January 26 to One Day on the 28th shows Fremantle council is getting more serious about Aboriginal issues, and the funding to investigate a purpose-built Aboriginal centre is also a clear indication that council wants to do more than just tokenism.

The heritage listing of the entire West End is significant and well overdue.

The cancellation of the Roe 8 Perth Freight Link by the new state government, and the Westport taskforce could well open up opportunities for the development of Victoria Quay.

The Long Table Dinner along High Street was a resounding success and raised $ 80,000 for St Pats, so well done Freo community for caring!

Fremantle City took back ownership of Fremantle Oval which opens up opportunities for good development of that precinct. And good riddance to the greedy Dockers!

The development of the South Fremantle Senior High School into Fremantle College and the departure of TAFE also create fantastic opportunities for substantial development in the heart of Beaconsfield.

Well-overdue traffic improvement in the Hilton centre are happening and so is traffic calming in South Fremantle.

The J Shed tavern saga continues and is a stand-off between what the community wants and Freo council stubbornly does not want to accept, while it also fails to concede that the Bathers Beach Arts Precinct concept is a failure.

Notre Dame University listened to the community and scrapped plans for a five-storey School of Nursing and Midwifery in High Street and bought the three-building Customs House complex instead to accommodate expansion.

Fremantle culture is maturing very well with outstanding exhibitions and concerts at the Fremantle Arts Centre and the very impressive and creative High Tide Biennale during the Fremantle Festival. More of that please!

The Cantonment Hill Project is now underway with the opening of the Tuckfield Oval playground.

The City of Fremantle has added three new communication officers, so we should rightly expect much better genuine communication and information from the City. The October election showed that there is a lot of ignorance in the community about what Fremantle Council and the administration do and that needs to be improved.

Well, that’s all that comes to my mind early this Thursday morning, so remind me what I failed to mention and I might do another article on other important issues in a few days time.

Roel Loopers

FINALLY SOME KINGS SQUARE ACTIVITY

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on December 20, 2017

 

Kings Square

 

It is reassuring to finally detect some activity at Fremantle’s Kings Square yesterday, as the delay of the demolition of the Queensgate building is of concern to the Freo community, and it invites the inevitable rumours.

The Fremantle Society claims developer Sirona Capital still does not have the finances in place for the Kings Square Project, and to be fair to FS I have heard this from other sources as well, including a senior City of Fremantle staffer.

Sirona’s managing director Matthew McNeilly assured me some weeks ago though that the delay of the demolition will not impact on the building timeline and that the project will progress as planned, so maybe we should just be a little patient and chill.

I sincerely hope we’ll see a lot of high-vis workers at Kings Square in January and that the demolition and construction will start in earnest, because Fremantle can not afford a delay of our most important development in decades.

Roel Loopers

and here, so everyone is up to date here the comment I just received from Matthew McNeilly, the managing director of Sirona Capital:

Hi Roel

I’m travelling overseas at the moment (looking at some outstanding retail concepts) and have just had your blog forwarded to me. For everyone’s piece of mind, funding was secured back in August. Government takes occupation in April 2020 and we are aiming to lauch FOMO pre Christmas 2019. It’s still only December 2017 and we have a quite short 19 month construction program. So there’s plenty of time and we’ll continue to be meticulous in both our planning and curation, as well as the execution of the project’s delivery. As you have noted, preliminary works are underway with the main building works to commence in the new year. Local retailers and the City have been made aware of this timing.

We are as excited as ever and can’t wait to deliver on the renewal of Freo’s CBD… as everyone appreciates, it’s long overdue!

Regards
Matthew

PEOPLE COUNTERS MEASURE FREMANTLE FOOT TRAFFIC

Posted in bid, city of fremantle, fishing boat harbour, Uncategorized by freoview on December 12, 2017

 

 

The Fremantle BID-Business Improvement District has ordered three more electronic people counters in the CBD, bringing the total to seven.

One of them, installed by Fremantle based A Beautiful City, was put up yesterday above the boardwalk of the Fishing Boat Harbour.

People counters inform the business communities, local councils, shopping centres, etc. about foot traffic around the city.

Roel Loopers

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