Freo's View

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

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

PUBLIC COUNCIL MEETINGS NOT BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Posted in city of fremantle, democracy, fremantle society, local government by freoview on March 31, 2017

The Fremantle Society continues sending misinformation to their members, now claiming that recent decisions by Fremantle Council were made behind closed doors, as was put in capital letters screaming it out in an email.

Fact is that the one-year delay of the Sirona Capital settlement for the Spicer site development and the Kings Square playground went through the proper democratic process at Council and from public Council committees to public full Council meeting, so nothing of that process was irregular or behind closed doors.

This is part of the rambling email to the Fremantle Society members:

Democracy Dead at Fremantle Council

Major decisions affecting ratepayer assets have been made BEHIND CLOSED DOORS at Fremantle Council.

Giving council’s developer mates Sirona Capital an extra year to decide on the Spicer site, the $550,000 playgound in King’s Square, and major decisions affecting the n ew administration building we dont need, were all made behind closed doors at a sub committee of council and then simple reported at council.

Insipid Media

The media seem disinterested in major Fremantle governance issues like decisions being made behind closed doors.

It is time the Fremantle Society stopped the nonsense of making non-factual claims about Fremantle Council and started to make a positive difference instead of silly political grandstanding.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with rigorously scrutinising Council and severely criticising them when they deserve it, as I myself regularly do here on Freo’s View, but it needs to be based on facts. The issues mentioned in the FS email were not behind closed doors but at public council committees and council meetings I attended as an observer, and they were not ‘confidential items’ on the agenda either, so open to public scrutiny.

Agendas and Minutes of Council and Council Committee meetings can be read on the City of Fremantle website.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE TOWNHALL CONSERVATION REVEALED

Posted in city of fremantle, heritage by freoview on March 27, 2017

 

The scaffolding is coming down at the Fremantle Townhall so go and have a look at all the conservation work done of the exterior of the building.

Roel Loopers

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IMPRESSIVE FREMANTLE TOWNHALL CONSERVATION

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, kings square, local government by freoview on March 18, 2017

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.

Roel Loopers

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.

FREMANTLE’S EXCITING MODERN FUTURE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, economy, retail, shopping, tourism by freoview on March 8, 2017

There was a rather exciting BID-Business Improvement District meeting at the National Hotel on Wednesday evening that spelled out the future of the Fremantle inner city, and I was very impressed.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was important that the business community engaged with the City and that they went on the journey together.

Pettitt admitted the next 3 years are going to be challenging for inner city traders because of the disruptions caused by the massive development at Kings Square and elsewhere in the CBD.

The Mayor said it was disappointing that the Hilton Doubletree hotel development on the Point Street carpark site will now only start in the first quarter of next year, so that is another lengthy delay.

The more I see of Gerard O’Brien, the boss of Fremantle developers Silverleaf, the more I like his no-nonsense approach and straight-forward message that Fremantle only has a three-year window before Garden City will more than double in size.

“We need to keep moving as we have suffered big time in Fremantle”, O’Brien said. “We need to get our act together and support each other as a community and Council. It needs to be a team effort!”

Silverleaf has huge plans for Fremantle and O’Brien said that they are only the custodians and want to leave something behind that all of Freo can be proud off, not just a glass box.

O’Brien then revealed his plans for the Woolstores shopping centre site and that is very exciting for Fremantle. The development is 26,000 square metres.

There will be an Adina Hotel, commercial floorspace and -hallelujah!- student accommodation! Plus a shopping centre at ground level and underground parking.

Coles will keep trading during the construction period and Gerard O’Brien believed that was essential to keep attracting shoppers into the inner city.

O’Brien said the design of the building pays tribute to the heritage and pays homage to the environment the new building will be in.

I quite like the old&new architecture with red bricks at ground level and vertical cladding similar to the new Perth library and theatre buildings, while the levels above that are very modern, but quite striking and minimalist.

The entire roof will be solar panels, which O’Brien said was a good investment, while the windows will be double-glazed and have new technology in them that will keep out the sun and keep the interior cool. I am impressed!

Silverleaf will also be developing “ the beautiful piece of history” former police and courthouse complex and Warders Cottages at Henderson Street into three-star history tourist accommodation with 64 rooms. It will also have a market place open space and four different concepts that are all about tourism.

New BID CEO Tim Milsom said the transformation of Fremantle is about to happen and that Silverleaf could develop anywhere in the world but chooses to do so in Fremantle.

Milsom said BID have plans for a creative hub and an aspirational business mix but O’Brien said that Fremantle has enough specialty stores.

Milsom said we need to find out from the community and visitors what is missing in Fremantle and what will bring people back. For example there is no hardware store in Freo anymore.

There is no bakery or butcher or corner deli in the CBD either, but more than a dozen new shops will open in Fremantle soon, so that is more good news.

Many 6160 are moving from the former Myer building at Kings Square to the former Spotlight building next to Target and are due to open next week.

I put my neck on the line and say that this is very good news for Fremantle and that we are on the right track to create a great vibrant city where hundreds of tourists will stay over night, eat, drink and shop and where we will finally have many students living in the inner city.

Roel Loopers

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