Freo's View


Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, local government by freoview on November 30, 2016



Relatively new City of Fremantle CEO Phil StJohn will have a few sleepless nights over the next months to come up with ideas and solutions to relocate all city staff during the demolition of the old and the construction of the new civic centre at Kings Square.

Where in Fremantle is there enough office space to accommodate some 450 staff and also the library, or will the library be closed during the development, which will take well over a year?

I doubt there is much vacant office space left in the new Atwell Arcade four-storey office building and no other buildings come to mind that would have enough floor space to accommodate all CoF staff.

There will also have to be a temporary Council Chamber with public access for Council and committees sittings. That could probably be done upstairs at the former Kulcha space, but it does not have disabled access.

The library could be relocated for a year to the Number 1 studio at J Shed but it is a bit out of the way of public transport and does not have sufficient parking.

Maybe the former Woolworth supermarket space in Adelaide Plaza can accommodate a lot of staff. The buildings is owned by Sirona Capital so they would be keen to assist the City.

It won’t be an easy task for the CEO to come up with solutions, so good luck Phil!

Roel Loopers


Posted in development, fremantle by freoview on September 4, 2015


The entry to the new Mediterranean Shipping Company-MSC-building in Fremantle’s Cliff Street was installed this morning and looks interesting.  I am looking forward to seeing the creative glass facade being put in soon and many new office workers roaming the West End and supporting local traders.

The MSC building was designed by North Freo architects Murray Slavin.

Roel Loopers


Posted in development, fremantle, state government by freoview on August 5, 2015

office space

WOW! Great news for Fremantle and the revitalisation of the CBD with the Department of Finance advertising for office accommodation in today’s West Australian.

They are looking for A-grade building standard and lettable area of 20,000 square metres no further than 600 metres from the train station with an expected completion by 2019.

I don’t think Kings Square is within 600 metres of the Freo train station, so this might be a build up to sell Victoria Quay and Fremantle port.  I am not sure also if the Atwell Arcade has enough available floor space to accommodate the requirements. Whatever the outcome it will be positive for Freo I hope.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, state government by freoview on May 15, 2015

I am yet to hear any comments about the Western Australian budget and assets sales in regard to the Department of Housing. Is their building at 99 Plain Street, East Perth on the list of State Government properties for sale? If not, a move by DoH to Fremantle will become even more unlikely, when one considers the financial deficit disaster the Barnett government has put our state in.

Fremantle could be negatively affected in two ways by the budget, with the planned sale of Fremantle Port, and if Housing does not announce a move to Fremantle’s Kings Square in the next few months that development project will be in limbo, because it is highly unlikely it can proceed without a major office tenant.

With estimated office vacancies in Perth projected to reach 25 per cent by the end of the year, and the no doubt offering of more lucrative deals there, a move to Freo’s Kings Square is not going to be a priority for government departments, agencies or corporations I fear. Now let’s hope Sirona Capital and the City of Fremantle will fast implement plan B,C,D…..or whatever and not wait for Godot any longer.

For those who do not understand my reference to Godot. Waiting for Godot is, according to WikiMedia, an absurdist play written by Samuel Beckett in 1953 in which characters Vladimir and Estragon wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of someone. It is a great play I have seen and photographed a few times and I am alway reminded of it when I think of the stagnant Kings Square development.

What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in the immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come…”
~ Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Roel Loopers


Posted in development, fremantle by freoview on April 2, 2015

Atwell Arcade

The Fremantle Atwell Arcade development is progressing well with a big empty space between the High Street mall and Cantonment Street and the arcade demolished. A four-storey building with street level retail and upper levels office use will be built on the site.

I still have not seen the City of Fremantle’s concrete plans on how they are going to improve the mall, so I hope  it will be sooner rather than later as the mall is looking very outdated and tired.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, development by freoview on March 11, 2015

At the Transformational Moves information session at the City of Fremantle last night, Mayor Brad Pettitt announced that recent talks with State Government had confirmed the government is still committed to moving a government department to Fremantle and that it would be finalised in 3-4 months.

The Department of Housing was said to move to Freo a few years ago by then Minister Troy Buswell but that never eventuated. With the very high office vacancy rate in Perth I believe skepticism is more appropriate than optimism in this regard and I hope the Kings Square development will move on without waiting and hoping for a State Government office lease there.

Roel Loopers



Posted in city of fremantle, future, planning by freoview on December 13, 2014
It does not need to be a boring zebra crossing to slow down traffic. This is at Davie Village in the West End of Vancouver, Canada.

It does not need to be a boring zebra crossing to slow down traffic. This is at Davie Village in the West End of Vancouver, Canada.

I have received many comments from the Fremantle community about the Fremantle Visioning 2029 report and the lack of substance and analysis. The document reads more like an election promo platform and was quite clearly heavily ‘doctored’ by the City of Fremantle, which puts into question the integrity of the whole process. Why pay consultant James Best a fee of reportedly $ 80,000, that no doubt does not include the costs for catering, venue hire and the use of COF staff, but then get Council officers and Elected Members to play with it a bit to create a document that has the appearance of an outcome that is precisely where Council wants to go. Some people would call that spin, or even dishonesty.

My mate and frequent commentator on this blog Paul Loring asked about my ideas, so I have put a very incomplete list together of the things I would like to see happen in Fremantle in the next 5-15 years and some even earlier and faster, so send me your ideas as well. Here are mine:

* Mixed retail, office, residential development at Kings Square and throughout the CBD, not a focus on retail/office accommodation there only. 24/7 activity and observation.

* Creation of flexible, evolving, non-permanent public spaces, parkletts, lingering-nodes, relaxation and play opportunities.

* Integrated approach to traffic calming, development, parking and creation of public spaces.

Traffic calming through visual means, not just speed signs, use of colour, retractable bollards for street closure.

* Movable, multi-use street furniture that can double as building blocks for kids or as dice to play games with.

* Adaptable residential, office and retail spaces with movable walls to create new spaces to allow for office and retail sharing, and for smaller homes where for example the dining room can become the office space during the day.

* Housing for seniors with shared facilities such as bikes, scooters, car, a shared meeting place.

* Changing community meeting events and one-offs, such as the Cappuccino Strip Street Club, including suburbs, not just CBD. More suburban street events like Lasagna festival, Hulbert Street Fiesta, George Street, etc. There should be a street festival in North Freo where MOJO’s is.

* A safe refuge for homeless people to spend the night.

* Make vacant shop windows into artworks.

* Introduce a Freo loyalty phone App where people get notified by WiFi about specials, e.g. come to the ? Café before 9 am to get breakfast and coffee for $ 15.00. Especially on weekdays!

* A Christmas shopping child care Creche where parents can leave children for a few hours.

* Make Freo more visually attractive by changing things more frequently to attract attention.

* Create bicycle parking that doubles at public art. No need for boring cheap-looking frames.

* Build a car park underneath Fremantle Oval.

* Use Fremantle Oval and Fremantle Park for concerts and festivals and take the pressure off the Esplanade.

* Create small green public lingering spaces throughout the city.

* Put a roof over the new busport and the car park along Beach Street and make the roof a public garden.

* Demand from State Government that the City of Fremantle has control over development along the water, e.g. Mews road and that Fremantle Ports hands over non-operational land to the COF for development.

* Make the Fremantle Festival and heritage festivals shorter and more focused. Quantity instead of quality. Festival co-ordinator Alex Marshall always manages to get some outstanding acts, like the fire dance on the Esplanade, the huge dinosaurs, the lovely wall dancing and projections in Leake Street, etc. so concentrate on those exceptional things and forget about the hang-on small stuff that has little or no impact. Two strong festivals weekends over four days is plenty, see Beaufort Street.

* Infrequent ‘spontaneous’ events. The waterslide coming soon is a brilliant idea and good example of what I mean!

* Hold the odd Councill meeting in public parks to attract the community and involve them in local government.

* Set minimum standards at the Bathers Beach Art Precinct to get away from the third-rate, new-age hippy feel and reiky healing signs. Hold an art market there.

* Pop-up parklets help with traffic calming.

I am sure I could come up with another long list of ideas and wishes, but this will do. I have probably forgotten some of the priorities, but those will filter through in future discussions.

Roel Loopers


Posted in aboriginal, fremantle, fremantle ports, victoria quay by freoview on October 9, 2014

The City of Fremantle Special Projects Committee had a first discussion about the just released plans for Victoria Quay by Fremantle Ports. My first impression is that the Ports have listened and taken all the community workshops input into account and the plans are so much better than the two ugly ING boxes proposed years ago that were abandoned due to public pressure.

What we now see is a series of low 4-5 storey buildings with just one higher 10-12 storey building east of Queens Street.

This is an integrated plan and a lot about connectivity between the CBD and the waterfront, with a shift of the busport to the east and a new entry from Queens Street.

There would also be a new railway crossing at Pakenham Street, and Peter Huges Drive in the Port, north of the railway line, would be extended all the way to Cliff Street, which would be an alternative east-west connection to Phillimore Street.

I think these are sensible and acceptable plans that  still require detailed fine-tuning and consideration, but as an overall concept they are positive for Fremantle and to activate Victoria Quay, so well done to Fremantle Ports and consultants CODA for listening so well to the community and all the stakeholders.

On behalf of the Fremantle Society I spoke yesterday against the proposal for a substantial building on Pioneer Park along Short and Pakenham streets and warned that we can not afford to lose more green open space in the inner city, even more so because new development will see many more people using the CBD and they will need green lingering nodes and places for people to relax and children to play.

I pointed out that the City’s desire to activate the reserve was partly to blame on them because they have done little to make the park attractive. For example why is there not a playground near the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre that attracts a lot of kids?

But thinking about it this morning I thought I could envisage a row of 2-3 storey residential townhouses along Short Street being quite attractive and taking up only a small percentage of the green space.

I believe that the City of Fremantle in general needs to better plan public and green spaces, as they do at Subi Centro in Subiaco where the Carter Lane precinct is being promoted as “Green Spaces Galore” and being a “distinctive feature of the precinct.”

There is a bit of ambiguity in the statement that Victoria Quay would have retail that does not undermine retail in the CBD. How is that going to work? The area is designed as a commercial/retail/tourism precinct so that would have cafes, bars and restaurants which would no doubt compete with those along the Cappuccino Strip and elsewhere in the inner city. It’s a silly notion really to believe a new waterfront destination will not attract people away from the CBD. Of course it will, but that is just the way the world works and CBD traders will have to counter act that.

Concerns were raised that there is the opportunity for building heights to go up if they have excellence in design, but that no limit has been set on the additional discretionary height. That is not acceptable and needs to be addressed, and there needs to be a Design Advisory Committee appointed for that and not been left to the discretion of Fremantle Ports.

The idea raised by some Councillors that there could be a “development authority’ for implementing the VQ development is not a bad one as it would bring cohesion to it and deal easier with stakeholders like the Public Transport Authority. This would also take care about a possibility that only the commercially most viable buildings would be built but the public realm neglected.

I am not sure why there would be the need for weather proof access to the train station from the Post Office in Market Street, as Councillor Sullivan keeps talking about. It sounds a bit too much to me as those ugly passage ways they build between school buildings and I can’t see any need for that in a city environment. All over the world one crosses station forecourt squares without being protected from the rain or sun, so why Fremantle needs to have something like it, that will be a visual barrier at Market Street, and needs to be high enough to accommodate buses and trucks, is not something I support. It is a walk that takes two minutes so why we would need protection from the rain and sun I do not understand.

The timeframe and implementation of the plans are crucial I believe. Ideally we would not want VQ commercial office space to compete with that being built at Kings Square, so hopefully Sirona Capital will get a head start and pre-lease the Myer and Queensgate buildings soon and can get started on the development there that is most essential for the re-activation of the inner city.

I am worried about Freo’s short-term future but excited about the long-term one. The modernisation and revitalisation of our city is essential to retain the State’s second city status and it is crucial for our local economy and traders. The entire development of Fremantle though needs to be handled sensitively and the authorities need to insist on high quality and well designed new buildings. Boring bland concret boxes will not do and have to be rejected vehemently.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on August 21, 2014

How do local governments really know what younger people want? We rarely see young people participating in community workshops and the few who do turn up, often only do because they are students of urban planning, sustainability, etc.

How can Fremantle Council engage younger people? What needs to be changed so that local government becomes interesting to them, because, after all, we are designing our future cities for them and, to a lesser extend, for the 55+ year-olds who do come to community consultation meetings.

Take the city of Kansas in the USA for example where the demand for inner city apartment living by 25-40 year olds became apparent, a new entertainment precinct was created, a stunning new performing art centre, a streetcar/lightrail, and a $ 90 million 30-storey 500,000-square-feet-tower was refurbished to make it into a ‘vertical city’ to house residential, offices, retail, a university satellite, childcare, and a public roof garden.

Inner city living in Kansas City has increased 50 percent since 2000.

So what will the City of Fremantle be doing to attract younger people to participate in the process of creating the future of our city? Bike paths along boring buildings won’t do and neither will the pretty dull and uninspiring nightlife of Freo. What do we need to provide as a community to have more happy young people living here? How can we revitalise the city so young people want to live, work and play here?

I want to hear the opinions of young people. I want to listen to them, so I know what they want, and we can assist them to enable that.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on July 21, 2014

Two interesting and quite significant development proposals will be discussed at Wednesday’s Fremantle full council meeting. The Stan Reilly site, adjacent to Fremantle Oval and Fremantle Hospital is being proposed for affordable housing for key workers, seniors and students in combination with public car parking for 350-400 vehicles. The officer’s recommendation states that the mix of residential, retail, commercial and car parking could be achieved if the carpark is partly or wholly underground. Street level retail would see the Cappuccino Strip streetscape extended south to Wray Avenue, which is a good idea in context with the development of the old synagogue site on the corner of Parry Street.

The second development proposal is significant for the east of Fremantle as it is located along Swanbourne and Knutsford streets and adjacent to Stevens Reserve. The proposal is for the 8.9 hectare piece of land to house a maximum of 470 dwellings with buildings heights between 17-20 metres, the equivalent of 4-5 storeys. There is one exception and that is for a landmark building of 47 metres, or 13 storeys on the southern edge at the Stevens Reserve boundary there.

I suggested years ago, while I still lived at 5 Swanbourne Street, that the area where the fuel tanks used to be, would be ideal for higher rise close to the CBD. The area is about one kilometre from Kings Square, with public transport only a two-minute walk away at High Street, and would be a great location to live for Notre Dame students, city retail and office workers, etc. Highrise would be hidden behind Monument Hill and is in an area that was very run down and that is being developed into residential already.

I am looking forward to Wednesday’s council session. It will be interesting to hear the opinions of our Elected Members.

Roel Loopers

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