Freo's View

SHOULD RATEPAYERS PAY FOR DREAMS?

 

Two articles in the Fremantle Herald this weekend should be a little eye-opener for Fremantle Council, and hopefully they have learned some lessons.

The front page is all about the City wanting to support the creative sector more with their interim economic development action plan, while inside the paper former Councillor Tim Grey-Smith is rightly annoyed that City Ward candidates use the demise of his business for political election reasons.

The lesson is that the City of Fremantle should of course support the creative sector, but should be very aware not to support unsustainable small businesses, because the unrecoverable debts the City writes off regularly are of great concern to the ratepayers.

Kulcha, Fly by Night, art studios at Captain’s Lane, the Soup cafe, etc. all cost the City much-needed income, because lack of market research and too much naivety and dreams are not really helpful to make a good business case for new small businesses, and when they flounder the ratepayers pay for the failures.

City properties should create income for the community, and while subsidised leases might well be helpful for start-ups, these cases need to be carefully considered. How many of us can recall the City investing $ 20,000 as part of the One Planet policy to get a business starting to grow mushrooms from coffee waste? It was successful for just over a year and has now disappeared.

We have successful creative businesses such at Greg James, Jenny Dawson and Jina Lee at J Shed, and Kidogo Arthouse, and the Glen Cowans photo gallery at Captain’s Lane who pay full commercial rates, but their future is uncertain because Fremantle Council has failed to appreciate how important these art businesses are for Fremantle, so any new ideas need to first deal with giving these artists the certainty of tenure they deserve, before heading of yet again into dreamworld.

Roel Loopers

PARKING TILL 9PM. WTF FREMANTLE?!

 

Destination marketing, redevelopment, placemaking, and all that stuff are not going to help Fremantle much when one of our major inner city car parks closes at 9pm.

That is happening at the Sirona Capital owned Queensgate carpark in Henderson Street, that used to be open till midnight, but is now only open from 6am to 9pm.

That is ridiculous! It should be open till midnight at least Friday-Sunday.

The irony about it is that the Kings Square Redevelopment project, of which the car park is a part, is supposed to turn Freo’s ailing economy around. Yep, but only if it is before 9pm.

Roel Loopers

FREO CIVIC CENTRE UPDATE

 

KS 1

 

The Fremantle Kings Square Redevelopment Project is going very well with the Sirona Capital buildings nearing completion, the Henderson Street car park has a new shade structure on the roof, and the new Civic Centre construction is also on track.

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on FREO CIVIC CENTRE UPDATE

FREMANTLE DOWN BUT NOT OUT!

 

walk 3

 

When things are down we have to remind ourselves of the good things as well, so I was thinking about the demise of Fremantle traders, the hardship of many retailers and the increasing vacancies of shops. Yep, we all know the problems are not unique to Fremantle and similar issues are happening in other parts of metropolitan Perth and WA,  but that does not help anyone.

What might be better for Fremantle though is to talk up our city’s uniqueness and achievements instead of having constant negativity in the news media, so I was thinking about all those iconic Freo traders who have been here seemingly ‘forever’.

I am sure my list is incomplete so please add all those long-term surviving traders I have overlooked.

The oldest shoe shop in metro Perth is Bodkin’s Bootery in Freo’s west end High Street, Bousfield and Warrens menswear have been here for as long as I know, and so has Ruocco’s pizza, the Capri, Culley’s, the news agency in the mall, Cicerello’s, Galati’s, Franks, the South Fremantle fish&chips.

Top that with the Sail&Anchor, National, Orient and Federal hotels, the Norfolk, Little Creatures and Newport, the Local and South Beach Hotel, the Tradeswind, Esplanade and Federal hotels, and the Fremantle Markets.

The Moore&Moore cafe has been open for more than ten years and so has the old Roma, that closed for a while but reopened. The Attic is still going well and so are Gino’s, Chalky’s, Picollo’s, and Duck Duck Bruce in Collie Street have been doing so well that they are opening a new second place in Bannister Street.

Kennedy’s the barber is also going well, and while Norm Wrightson’s will be closing  due to the Manning building development it has been THE iconic Freo barber for ages. And let’s not forget Bitches Brew the framers and art gallery, Kakula’s Sister,  and Japingka Gallery and Megan Salmon’s fashion shop.

The Manning building development with a new tavern, brewery and distillery will be great and so will be the Police&Justice complex tourist attraction with hotel, FOMO at Kings Square will offer a whole new shopping and hospitality experience, and a few new hotels  and residential apartment buildings will pop up in the centre of Freo over the next years as well

It might often feel as if Fremantle is on it’s knees but the fight is not over by a long way, and Freo people and traders know how to fight and the community knows how to support one another. We’ll get through these tough times by telling ourselves and others that Freo is a pretty outstanding place to visit, shop and live. We can do it Freo!

SHOP AND HAVE FUN IN FREO!

 

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on FREMANTLE DOWN BUT NOT OUT!

UNFAIR TO BLAME LOCAL COUNCILS FOR RETAIL DECLINE

 

Kings Square

 

It is rather hypocritical for Bill Marmion to berate Fremantle Council about economic development in his letter in the West Australian on Thursday. Has Mr Marmion forgotten that he was a minister in the Barnett government that created the biggest billions of dollars debt in the history of Western Australia?

Fremantle Council has in fact been proactive for ten years to start the economic recovery with encouraging developers to start building in the CBD, and that is happening with the LIV and Heirloom residential developments now occupied and with four hotels approved at the Woolstores shopping centre, the former Point Street carpark site, the Police&Justice complex and another one at the Warders Cottages next to Fremantle Markets. And the Kings Square Redevelopment Project is on track and will open in the first quarter of next year with a creative new retail concept called FOMO.

A new Destination Marketing campaign for Fremantle was launched two months ago, but retailers must adjust to the changing shopping trends instead of blaming local councils for the decline of retail. Some Freo traders still have boring window displays as if it’s the 1960s and refuse to modernise their shop fronts and customer service.

There is plenty of parking in Fremantle Bill Marmion with over 5,000 bays plus a new carpark coming on line next year in Parry Street.

The world changes, and while Fremantle Council is far from perfect and often frustrates me they are well ahead of other local councils in the economic rebirth game.

Roel Loopers

ARE SOME OF FREO’S PIPELINE PROJECTS A PIPE DREAM?

 

I am all for telling the good Freo stories, but the City of Fremantle’s latest media release is basically rehashing old news to counteract today’s criticism in the West Australian.

This is a large section of the media release:

A review of the City of Fremantle’s Economic Development Strategy suggests there is increasing confidence in Fremantle as a place to invest despite the current stagnation in the WA economy.

A report to be considered by Fremantle Council next week said the most recent CommSec ‘State of the States’ report ranked WA’s economy as the second-weakest in the nation, while figures from the WA Treasury indicate lower discretionary spending on retail, food and beverage services.

The report also quotes Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA business confidence surveys in which 64 per cent of respondents said they expected economic conditions to stay the same or worsen over the next 12 months, with weak demand cited as the largest barrier to business growth.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said even though the picture was gloomy for the broader WA economy Fremantle was showing encouraging signs.

“In 2017-18 Fremantle reached a record high of $313 million worth of residential and commercial property approved for construction, defying the WA trend which has seen building approvals fall by 9.2 per cent over the past year,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“Of Fremantle’s current $1.3 billion development pipeline more than $600 million is either built or under construction, with recently completed residential apartment developments continuing to grow the inner city population.

“New residential development either recently built or under construction is continuing to contribute to a projected 68 per cent increase in the number of people living in Fremantle’s city centre by 2021.

“We’ve also seen new businesses continue to open in Fremantle, with a trend towards new food and beverage outlets rather than traditional retail.

“This means Fremantle now boasts an even stronger offering of unique, high-quality hospitality offerings as well as a selection of high-end boutique retail outlets.”

Despite the increased investment in Fremantle the Economic Development Strategy review also highlighted that the broader economic headwinds were challenging for local businesses.

Commercial vacancy rates in the city centre have been increasing in line with the wider metropolitan area, although vacancies in Fremantle were clustered around current redevelopment and construction zones.

While all of the above is true we also need to realistically acknowledge that a lot of the pipeline development has stalled. The Woolstores hotel development, the Hilton Doubletree, the Little Lane on the Spotlight site, the Energy Museum development and also the Justice and Police Complex in Henderson Street are all projects in waiting, and so is the boutique hotel at the Warders Cottages next to Fremantle Markets.

That is a lot of development that might, or might not, go ahead and even senior officers at the City of Fremantle are doubtful that some of them will actually become reality.

The most sensible way for Fremantle Council to move forward is being pragmatic and to accept that some of the planned and approved development projects are still a long way away and that the Kings Square development all on its own won’t bring the economic rebirth Freo badly needs, and our many struggling traders can’t wait for much longer. What is needed is short term action and prioritising a strong marketing campaign.

Roel Loopers

WEST AUSTRALIAN ATTACK ON FREMANTLE

Posted in carbon, city of fremantle, community, environment, local government, retail, Uncategorized by freoview on July 17, 2019

 

Dual and strong attacks on Fremantle and Mayor Brad Pettitt in today’s West Australian.

In his column Paul Murray writes that the City of Fremantle has claimed carbon neutral status when that can’t be substantiated, because they did not follow the rules and did not have an independent audit every three years.

This comes, according to Paul Murray, after a Murdoch University student who is doing a masters in renewable and sustainable energy, started asking questions about Fremantle’s claim of carbon neutrality.

Student Martin Lee is quite well known in Freo because he also was very critical about the Kings Square business plan many years ago. Lee was told by the City of Fremantle that it will finally engage a consultant to do their first carbon neutral audit this financial year. That is pretty damaging for the reputation of our council!

The second article is an attack by local Freo traders on Mayor Brad Pettitt, claiming the Mayor is more interested in a moral crusade about social issues and the environment than looking after the City’s economic welfare and declining retail.

While I am often very skeptical about the One Planet priorities at Fremantle Council I believe the elected members have been pro-actively trying to turn Freo’s economy around with the Kings Square redevelopment project, Planning Scheme Amendment 49 that encouraged developers to build residential and commercial medium rise buildings in the CBD, and the new destination marketing launch that is now promoting Fremantle more substantially.

Retailers all over the Perth metro area from Mount Lawley to Leederville, Subiaco, Perth, etc. complain about similar things; parking too expensive or not enough parking bays, antisocial behaviour and homeless people. There is very little local councils can do about homeless people and antisocial behaviour but Fremantle has improved its safety officers program and they are out on the streets every day from early to late.

While I would like to see Fremantle Council focus more on the day to day practical issues our city faces and change some of its priorities I do not believe that traders should be blaming Fremantle Council and its Mayor for the huge issues retailer face all over Australia and the world. There is no doubt that there is a retail and a homelessness crisis, but the power of local governments to tangibly do something about that is very limited.

In that context it is interesting to read that the $ 750 million Garden City extension work has been stopped by the builder.

Roel Loopers

 

LIGHTS ON AT FREO’S KINGS SQUARE

 

Kings Square lights

 

The party lights are on at Fremantle’s Kings Square between the two new Sirona Capital buildings, so here a glimpse of it.

Roel Loopers

OLD FREO NEWS STILL GOOD NEWS

Posted in city of fremantle, development, property, real estate, Uncategorized by freoview on June 20, 2019

 

It must be slow news time or sheer desperation for a good news story that The City of Fremantle and Mayor Brad Pettitt are re-posting an article in Business News about Andrew-Twiggy-Forrest’s investments in Fremantle.

It is old news that Forrest’s companies have bought the Orient Hotel in High Street for $ 4.6 million and the Spicers carpark on the corner of William and Henderson streets from Sirona Capital for $ 7.6 million, as well as 45 Phillimore Street for $ 2.7 million.

So yes, shout it out loud that Andrew Forrest has invested $ 15 million in Freo over the last 15 months and that it is a sign of confidence in Fremantle’s economic rebirth.

Roel Loopers

COMMITTEE FOR PERTH LATEST WA STATISTICS

 

Committee for Perth WA stats

The Committee for Perth released its latest Fact Sheet with this easy to read graphic.

Interesting to note that the huge state of Western Australia only has 10% of Australia’s population, so over-population is not something we have to greatly worry about here in the west.

While the unemployment rate is 6.3% in WA the forecast for employment growth is 2%, so let’s hope that will be at least the case as the nation’s average is 5%.

Roel Loopers

%d bloggers like this: