Freo's View

KINGS SQUARE COMMUNITY INFO SESSIONS

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on June 17, 2017

 

The most important city centre redevelopment in a generation is about to begin which will see the heart of Fremantle transformed into a vibrant community, retail and commercial hub in coming years.

Over the coming weeks, the mayor and our local councillors will be heading to the suburbs to show what the $270m Kings Square Renewal project involves, its benefits, how long it will take and what it will mean for you. This is your opportunity to ask questions face-to-face with your local elected members.

The upcoming precinct presentations are:

Hilton: Tuesday 20 June, 6.45 pm at Fremantle PCYC (Arts Space) (34 Paget Street Hilton).
North Fremantle: Thursday 22 June, 6.00 pm at North Fremantle Community Hall (2 Thompson Road North Fremantle).
City: Saturday 24 June, 11.30 am at Fremantle Arts Centre (1 Finnerty Street Fremantle).
South Beach Community Group and South Fremantle: Sunday 25 June, 4.00 pm at The Meeting Place Community Centre (245 South Terrace South Fremantle)
Hilton: Tuesday 27 June, 6.30 pm at Samson Recreation Centre (44 Mc Combe Avenue Samson)
Fremantle Inner City Residents Association: Tuesday 4 July, 7.00 pm at a venue to be confirmed.
White Gum Valley, Gibson Park and Beaconsfield: Tuesday 4 July, 7.30 pm at White Gum Valley Primary School (29 Hope Street White Gum Valley).
Fremantle Society: Tuesday 18 July, 7.00 pm at The Meeting Place Community Centre (245 South Terrace South Fremantle.

POSITIVE SIGNS FOR KINGS SQUARE PROJECT

Posted in city of fremantle, hospitality, retail, Uncategorized by freoview on June 17, 2017

 

carpark

 

The Fremantle Kings Square project is not the bad news some people want us to believe it will be.

Food related businesses will no doubt serve many meals to the many construction workers who will be on site, and the streets around the square won’t be blocked off, so access should not be a big issue.

Very good news also that the Queensgate carpark will remain open to the public, but run by contractors for Sirona Capital.

The City of Fremantle is also providing extra car bays in the CBD on the large vacant block next to the Point Street carpark and along Adelaide Street. It will be managed by the CoF as a public carpark until the SKS Group starts building the Hilton Doubletree hotel there.

All day parking at the Woolstores shopping centre is only $ 9.00, so take advantage of that and Point Street is also around that price.

Roel Loopers

KINGS SQUARE GAME CHANGER FOR FREO

Posted in city of fremantle, development, economy, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on June 8, 2017

 

 

 

It is only weeks until the Fremantle Kings Square Project will get started and a new website is under construction to keep us up to date, so check out www.kingssquarefremantle.com

I had a chat about the game-changing project with the very straight-forward and open City of Fremantle Director of City Business Glen Dougal who was very positive about Fremantle’s future and said it was exciting for staff to be part of such a progressive city.

“Can we afford Kings Square? Absolutely, yes! Do we have to budget for it? Yes” Dougal said. “At the start we will take a bit of a hit but we will trade out of that without a doubt.” It is an investment into Freo’s future and the CoF will have to cut its costs for a while. The debts will be written off in ten years.

“The Kings Square Project is not going to send us broke, but we’ll have to invest wisely and prioritise projects. We will cut costs in the right spots while still delivering what the community expects of us.” Dougal adamantly said.

All the development under way and already approved development to come will see a significant and structural change in revenue for Fremantle and improve the bottom-line. CoF could not rely on the fluctuating revenue base it had to work with in the past. “Improving the rate base is a very good outcome.”

The operating budget will end up with many more millions that will increase from 8 to 10 million dollars in ten years that can be used for other projects. It will mean we only have to raise rates at CPI.

Borrowing money from state government for longer would also be a better short-term gain, but the state kept charging local governments more for utilities and also loans while demanding they cut costs. “The state government only allows us to borrow on the operating budget.” said Glen Dougal.

All the new businesses and residents will increase revenue for the City and that is good because parking and other revenue has gone down.

The community will be consulted on the ten-year budget plans and a new 165-bay carpark will be built at the Stan Reilley site next to Fremantle Oval by the end of this year.

The vacant site for the Hilton Doubletree hotel at Adelaide Street will also be converted into a carpark untl the SKS group is ready to start building and a 120-bay carpark next to the Fremantle Tennisclub in Parry Street is also on the cards.

Glen Dougal shrugged off criticism that Sirona Capital might one day sell off their Kings Square properties saying that most investment money was off-shore and that foreign investment in Australia had been happening all around. He pointed out the SKS group who will build the Hilton is foreign money, as are many hotel groups.

It is always refreshing to talk with Glen Dougal because he is a no-nonsense operator who does not play games and does not get involved in politics. He is very matter of fact and professional and had nothing to hide. He showed me stats and graphs on the computer he will present to Council. He was very positive about the vision and strategic planning of Fremantle Council and said under the good leadership of Mayor Brad Pettitt all Councillors could shine.

I walked away from my meeting with Glen Dougal feeling confident about Freo’s future. Nothing in life is perfect and there are no doubt issues at the City of Fremantle and things that need to be improved by the administration, but I personally don’t believe Fremantle could afford not to do the Kings Square Project as traders in the city are in desperate need of economic recovery. Many hundreds of new people residing in the CBD and thousands working here will make a huge difference, and so will tourists staying in the new hotels.

Good leadership is about doing more than just the populist things and the Kings Square, Fremantle Oval, Cantonment Hill projects are huge for our city, as is all the private investment through development  Council has been encouraging. It will create a vibrant modern east end of Fremantle. One day in the distant future and with the help of the WA government we will also see the South Quay Project go ahead.

I am optimistic about Freo’s future and can’t wait for the official opening of Kings Square in about two years from now!

Roel Loopers

OUTRAGEOUS RANT FROM SOCIETY PRESIDENT

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle society, sirona capital, Uncategorized by freoview on June 4, 2017

Fremantle Society president John Dowson is losing the plot and needs to be reigned in by its members and committee!

This racist rubbish below, that he sent to FS members, is disgraceful and outrageous and it is unacceptable.

Fremantle gets many thousands of Malaysian tourists every months who support our retailers, hospitality industry and economy and Malaysia is a very important neighbour for WA.

Chinese interest in our mining industry are very high and China is a very important export market for our state.

The right-wing rant from the FS president is an embarrassment to the community group and Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

Which Flag Will Fly in King’s Square?

The massive sell off of ratepayer assets by Fremantle Council means that Queensgate, Queensgate car park, and the Spicer site in the heart of Fremantle belong to Sirona Capital, who have hinted the assets may be sold to overseas interests. Does this mean that key strategic assets adjoining King’s Square may soon be owned by Communist Chinese or Islamic Malaysian interests? Both countries are increasingly buying large stakes and large influence in this country.

 

SIRONA APPOINTS PROBUILD FOR KINGS SQUARE

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on May 16, 2017

kings-square_lr

SIRONA CAPITAL has appointed national building company ProBuild for the $ 270 million Fremantle Kings Square Project. Building will commence in August this year.

ProBuild has been signed up for several major construction jobs in Perth recently and is already busy with building the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Elizabeth Quay.

I believe it is great news for Fremantle and will truly change our city’s fortunes for the better.

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE SOCIETY NOT TRUTHFUL

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle society, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 5, 2017

While Fremantle Society President John Dowson is always keen to question the integrity and transparency of Fremantle Council he does not care much about telling his members blatant lies to make Council look bad.

Dowson sent this email to FS members recently “…..the new administration building will only have HALF as much office space for staff as the current one! The 400 staff will have 800 sq metres of space, or 2 sq metres each, with the new “Hot desking” technique of not giving staff their own offices. This encourages staff to arrive early, around 5am, to secure the best positions.”

But the facts are very different according to the City of Fremantle. The present administration building has a net floor area for staff of 1,804 square metres and the new administration building will have 1,839 square metres of net floor area for staff, so  1,039 square metres more than the Fremantle Society President claims it will have.

In his desperation to make political points John Dowson does not bother to check facts it appears, so be warned who you vote for at the October election, especially when the candidates are supported by John Dowson’s hot air.

Roel Loopers

FREO FAIRNESS ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Posted in city of fremantle, community, elections, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 1, 2017

 

The Fremantle Mayoral election campaign is under way very early with the launch of Ra Stewart’s campaign launch on Friday evening and the first election advertisement in the Fremantle Herald.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has yet to officially declare if he will be standing again but all signs are that he believes he still has a job to finish and will try to remain Mayor for another four years.

We are an opinionated lot in Freo, and Councillors and the Mayor have plenty of supporters but also plenty of haters who will criticise just about anything Council does.

I would love to see an election campaign of visions, ideas, innovation and the realisation of how strong local government grassroots is. Only at local government can we come to Council and address our Elected Members. We cannot do that in State or Federal government and we need to take advantage of the opportunity to let our Councillors know what we like and dislike.

It is probably too much to ask the community for fairness and balance and give Council credit where it is due, because we tend to focus on the negative aspects of Council decisions and tend to ignore the achievements.

I have always disliked what happens in politics when opposing parties just slam everything the other party proposes, instead of open-mindedly also acknowledging good ideas their opponents have. I found that childish and immature.

The Fremantle community is very engaged, but reading many of the comments on social media, letters to the newspapers and hearing them on talk-back radio, I am also stunned about the lack of knowledge, and people making complaints that are based on ignorance because they fail to inform themselves.

It is not fair to the Elected Members to assume one knows something and criticise them for decisions they have not made, when it is very easy to find out what has been happening at Council by reading agendas and minutes, or better even, as I do, attend Council and Committee meetings so one can hear what is being debated at Council and observe how good or bad we are represented by our Councillors.

Politics at all levels will find many people disappointed with what our politicians decide, while others will be delighted. That is just how it works and it will never change. Politicians will never ever please everyone and will either be considered too left or too right by the community, whatever our personal preferences are.

When Council approves a new family home it is likely that it upsets at least the two neighbours to the left and right, while the applicants will be over the moon, or if the proposal is rejected the neighbours will be happy but the proponent will hate Council. That is one of the many realities Councillors have to deal with every day and they do their utmost to make the right and fair decisions.

I was very much against Planning Scheme Amendment 49 because I believed it would open the doors for too excessive heights in the CBD, and I still believe those heights should have been restricted to 8-9 storeys only, but when I witness the massive development in the inner city that will see Fremantle’s economic prospects turn around dramatically in the next few years, I have to acknowledge that this is the result of PSA 49 being implemented by Council.

The Esplanade Youth Plaza was hugely controversial and I too believe that it should have been added to the reserve by building it on the Italian Club carpark site, but the enormous success of the skatepark cannot be ignored.

The Australia Day decision was very controversial but has now started an Australia-wide debate if we should change the date of it, and the doom and gloom predictions that it would be a disaster for Fremantle traders did not eventuate.

The Kings Square Project will probably be debated for another ten years but I have no doubt it will help to revitalise the inner city to the benefit of our traders. I find it futile to debate if or if not we need a new civic centre after the decision about it was made years ago, and if it should or should not be erected at our City Square.

What remains disappointing though is that the City of Fremantle still has not made public the full business plan they signed off on with Sirona Capital. We were told before the State Government signed a lease for the offices that it was commercial confidentiality that prevented the business plan being made public, but that excuse is no longer valid.

It is tactically very silly of Fremantle Council to not let us read the Kings Square contracts because it will just give more ammunition to the conspiracy theorists who believe there is something sinister about it all. Transparency and openness should not just be election buzzwords but a given at local government.

We’ll have the chance over the next five months to question and scrutinise the candidates who will step up to represent us and they should all get a fair go. That includes the sitting members because most of them have worked extremely hard over the last four years to do the right thing by the city they love. They too deserve fairness and not the utterly ridiculous and untrue assertions that they are all mere puppets to the Mayor and vote whatever he tells them to vote for. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I have observed personally for around ten years now.

Councillors are very very thorough and they take their responsibilities very serious. The challenge for us voters will be to see through the hot air and bulls… and decide if new contenders will do a better job than those who have the local council experience and knowledge. Be aware that it is easy to make empty promises when one does not understand the process of government.

I will endeavour to act as the Devil’s advocate and Freo’s conscience and report with fairness and balance during the election campaign, as I have done on Freo’s View for seven and a half years.

All Council candidates will get a fair go here and if they send me info about their campaign I will share that with the community, however I will insist on respectful dialogue no matter if you are far left or far right, somewhere in the middle, or just an undecided voter.

Roel Loopers

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SUPPORT FREO TRADERS DURING DEVELOPMENT

Posted in cafe, city of fremantle, development, kings square by freoview on April 5, 2017

The problems traders in Scarborough face, and business closures because of the massive redevelopment there, sends a message to Fremantle Council to be pro-active and assists retailers and the hospitality industry over the next 3 years during the Kings Square project development that will have serious short-term negative implications for businesses in the area.

While the City of Fremantle is not exactly rolling in money it might be a good idea to stop charging cafes alfresco fees during the development period and also to allow retailers to move out into the streets to show their wares.

Free parking at the Parry Street and Beach Street carparks could also be a consideration for the start of the week to try to support our local traders. If they can hang in there for the next three years they will all benefit from an invigorated Freo economy with new hotels opening, new office workers coming to Fremantle and many more people residing in the inner city. The long-term future for Fremantle is a very good one and well worth investing in!

We don’t want more shop closures, vacant buildings and people going broke, so we need to support them as well as we can. Let’s start talking about it now as a priority!

Roel Loopers

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IT WAS JUST APRIL ROOLS!

Posted in april fools, fremantle by freoview on April 1, 2017

No panic Freo, the Kings Square blog this morning was an April Fools, but rewarding to receive a slightly worried SMS from Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly asking if it was an April Fools.

Also fake news was the didgeridoo story and unfortunately the one about J Shed as well.

Great April Fools also from Freo Sea Rescue who claimed the traffic bridge would become a toll bridge for boats passing underneath it, to pay for repairs.

So welcome to April, one of my favourite months because it has the Fremantle International Street Arts Festival and ANZAC Day.

Roel Loopers

 

TREASURER RINGS ALARM BELLS FOR KINGS SQUARE

 

The announcement at a function on Friday night by new Western Australian Treasurer Ben Wyatt that the state government will not go ahead with the relocation of government departments because of the financial implications is very worrying for Fremantle and should send alarm bells ringing at the City of Fremantle.

Wyatt said that he had to make substantial savings to fix the budget and that the state unfortunately does not have the money for expensive relocations. The new government was in favour of the decentralisation of the workforce away from the Perth CBD but it would be better to reduce public servant staff numbers through early redundancy, increase efficiency and productivity, and reduce duplications of services, creating smaller offices, as the state could not afford the very costly relocation of departments in the near future because of the dire financial state of Western Australia.

The move of Department of Housing and other departments to Fremantle is essential for the success of the Fremantle Kings Square project and if this is cancelled or substantially delayed by the new Labor government it will have a huge negative impact for Fremantle.

The question is if Sirona Capital can afford to go ahead with the project if the lease with state government departments is ripped up, or could this be the end of Freo’s big dream of economic recovery through the biggest inner city project in many decades?

This is very worrying news at the start of the month where the demolition of the Queensgate building was due to start. I for one hope the exciting Kings Square project will progress as planned and that solutions will be found fast if Wyatt’s assertions are correct.

Many in the Fremantle community have questioned the need for a new expensive Civic Centre at Kings Square and no doubt they would be delighted if the project did not go ahead, but I believe it would be very disappointing if our city square is not modernised and activated.

Roel Loopers

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