Freo's View

LATEST FROM KINGS SQUARE REDEVELOPMENT

 

FOMO 1

FOMO 2

 

The latest look at the new Sirona Capital buildings along Fremantle’s William Street and Queen Street.

It is all part of the Kings Square Redevelopment Project with the new City of Fremantle civic centre building progressing well at Kings Square.

Roel Loopers

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NEW FREO BUILDINGS OPENING SOON

 

The sun is out in Fremantle and I needed fresh air, sunshine and a nice walk, so I went and had a look at the progress of development around the CBD.

I started at the huge Defence Housing site at Queen Victoria and Quarry Street where building will start early next year. It is opposite the impressive Heirloom development of the old woolstores there, so two significant residential developments in the east of the CBD.

Over in the west end a lot is happening with the gorgeous Elders building in Cliff Street, the Quest Hotel on the corner of Pakenham and Short streets and the residential development on the corner of Pakenham and Bannister streets all opening very soon.

The Quest Hotel looks more acceptable now that the cladding has been put up, but for my liking it is still one storey too high for Pakenham Street.

The Atwell Arcade building is also close to opening, so we’ll see more office workers in the city soon.

City planning is a huge challenge for every local council, but without development there can’t be progress, so it is good to see Fremantle is moving forward to becoming a modern city with a beautiful heritage heart.

Roel Loopers

 

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RESPECTING HERITAGE A MUST FOR NEW FREO BUILDINGS

Posted in architecture, development, fremantle, heritage, western australia by freoview on July 5, 2016

Elders

Quest

 

The gorgeous old former Elders building on the corner of Cliff and Phillimore streets is being revealed again after extensive work on it as part of the new MSC-Mediterranean Shipping Company’s new office building next to it.

The new modern building adjoining it, designed by North Fremantle Murray Slavin Architects, shows that respectful modern design can be complimentary to neighbouring heritage buildings like the Elders one.

It is however a whole different and very disappointing story down the road at the new Quest Hotel building on the corner of Pakenham and Short streets. The designers show no respect whatsoever for the heritage building and the historic Pakenham streetscape. I think the building is a disgrace as it diminishes the heritage warehouse.

Sirona Capital who are the developers of the hotel have big signs stating “Investing in Fremantle’s Future” If this is the standard of buildings Sirona want to build in Freo I suggest they go and invest somewhere else because we want excellence in our historic city, not mediocrity.

Roel Loopers

WHAT IF KINGS SQUARE DOES NOT PROCEED?

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square by freoview on April 22, 2016

I want to make a few points about the call by community groups to abolish the Kings Square Project. I don’t want to go through the same old arguments of the controversial and badly explained business plan, but about what could happen if the project does not go ahead.

The project was at length debated by the community some three years ago and was seen as essential to restart the retail economy and activate Kings Square and the CBD, before Council signed off on it.

I now hear calls to demolish the administration building and create a big grass area there, but it comes from the same people who constantly complain about anti-social behaviour at Kings Square. A grassed area would not attract families for a picnic, but would bring more troublemakers, and it would not bring more badly needed shoppers and office workers to the inner city.

A lawn is not going to do anything at all for the retailers in town, but those who accuse the City of Fremantle for being responsible for the demise of retail, conveniently forgetting the Global Financial Crisis, now want to scrap a major project that significantly would help revive the retail economy in Fremantle.

The people who laud the convenience of modern (but very boring) shopping centres don’t want Fremantle to be modernised and become more attractive to traders, but will probably keep blaming the City for not doing enough for our retailers.

I keep hearing arguments that in the past consultants and Council wanted to go in a different direction, but that changed in 2012 when the Kings Square Project was approved by full council, so why can’t some people accept that changes are being made by new councils, not only in Fremantle but everywhere in the world. There are new ways of doing things, new perspectives, new policies, new State Government directives, etc. Times change.

It it negative, unhelpful and not factual that the City of Fremantle did not try hard enough to keep Myer in town. The big department stores have issues and do things differently. They need a lot of footfall and passing trade that Fremantle could no longer offer.

I drove through Subiaco this morning where most of the expensive fashion labels have abandoned the Colonade Shopping Centre in Hay Street, and a significant downturn in retail has happened in very many cities around Australia and the world, not just in Fremantle.

It is too simplistic to blame Fremantle Council, and it is not fair. We finally have a building boom in town after twenty years of development hibernation, but none of the Council bashers want to acknowledge that because there are a few big-headed people with bruised egos and a personal agenda who arrogantly believe that they know everything better than the rest of us, and who are quite happy to ignore that proper community consultation was done on the Kings Square Project. There is a 50 per cent change the Housing Department will move to Kings Square, so why not allow time for that State decision to be made before abandoning or altering the project and lose that opportunity.

If the KS project was scrapped it would seriously and negatively impact on the confidence developers have been showing the City of Fremantle and many might pull out and not bother in the future. The same would apply to new retailers who are contemplating to move into Fremantle.

Not going ahead with Kings Square would also mean a loss in connectivity and wayfinding to the developed Fremantle Oval precinct and the Henderson Street Warders Cottages.

No is never a good word to start with when one is considering change, development and a new direction. Fremantle can’t and won’t remain the same, no matter how hard some individuals keep trying to stop progress. Fremantle will change because it needs to grow and modernise, and it needs to happen fast, but with adequate restraint and a genuine attempt at getting better quality buildings.

You can’t say you want more retailers in town when you want to stop most development, because without more people living, working and visiting Freo new retail is not viable here and no one will take the risk opening up shop.

The Kings Square Project will cost the community money, it is arguable and still unclear how much that is, but should we not invest in the future and the retail resurrection, should we not entice more developers to start building, should we not want more hotels so visitors can stay overnight, and do we really expect that this will all come at no cost to the ratepayers?

Some on blogs and social media defend the extremely expensive and not very impressive Elizabeth Quay development in Perth but are attacking the Kings Square Project, and no doubt will attack the Cantonment Hill project and oppose any new building development that is over two storeys in height.

The community elected a Council to make decisions, many of which we might not agree with, but it is their job. The community had the chance to vote out six Councillors at the last election, but changed only one. I think it is imperative to keep that in mind when shouting at public meetings.

Now have a very special ANZAC Day long weekend everyone!

Roel Loopers

FREO DEVELOPMENT IS BIGGER THAN KINGS SQUARE

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square by freoview on April 19, 2016

Kings Square 1 Kinhsd Square 2

 

 

The Fremantle Kings Square development project will continue to remain controversial for a while and Council will decide next week if the contract with Sirona Capital will be extended, but what are the alternatives if the project does not go ahead and what impact would that have on the revitalisation of the inner city and our city square?

Tomorrow night community groups will present a plan that would scrap the project and move City of Fremantle staff into a refurbished Queensgate building and demolishing the present administration building. Will that do anything to revitalise Kings Square? I doubt it.

And what would Sirona do with the Myer building if the project does not go ahead and will the Spicers carpark site remain undeveloped for many years? That would not be a good outcome.

The plans to redevelop Fremantle Oval and the Stan Reilly site, together with the redevelopment of the former Police Station and Courthouse, plus the soon to be occupied old Warders Cottages, make the Kings Square project an even more exciting opportunity that would create a whole new attractive and vibrant area of the CBD.

The mix of retail, offices and residential and hospitality venues would activate an area that has been in hibernation for twenty years, just shifting COF staff to Queensgate won’t do that, and what would we do with a huge empty square when the administration building is demolished?

The argument that we need to return to a real city square of older days and that the Kings Square project would make two triangles out of the square is flawed. High Street traffic ran through the centre of Kings Square till 1966 and only then was it closed off, so one can barely make a heritage argument out of it.

I believe the plans for Kings Square by the City and Sirona are good and the slightly higher buildings along Newman Court would actually help accentuate the feeling of a square. Look at the pictures above.

It would also help to make William Street a lot more attractive as it is a very bland street. Hopefully if all that happens there will also be interest in putting new buildings along Queens Street between High and Henderson Street as that is a pretty ugly little part of the city right now.

If we can see the bigger picture and cohesion in all the plans for the area we should not fear change but see it as a great opportunity to create a vibrant inner city. Going back to the past is not an option.

There is one thing though I would like to see being made public before the City extends its contract with Sirona Capital. They say there is a Plan B in case the Housing Department does not move to Kings Square, so let us see Plan B first before committing to the extension of the contract. It is reasonable and fair that we should have a clear picture of what Sirona wants to do if Plan A falls by the wayside. Assurances alone are not good enough for this huge project where the City is investing a lot of ratepayers money in.

Roel Loopers

KINGS SQUARE NEEDS DAY AND NIGHT ACTIVATION

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square by freoview on April 18, 2016
Kings Square as it was in 1957. Two triangles.

Kings Square as it was in 1957. Two triangles.

 

With Fremantle Council having to decide in the next weeks if it will extend the Kings Square project contract with Sirona Capital, I believe it would be a good idea to revisit the actual ideas and question if they will be the best outcome for our civic square.

When community consultation was under way there was always talk about having a hotel on the square to ensure 24/7 activation, but somehow that came undone and the project as it stands will only deliver retail and office accommodation.

I do not believe that Kings Square will ever become truly activated unless there is a residential component in either or both the Queensgate and former Myer buildings.

Possible future development within the large block between Queen Adelaide, High Street, Queen Street, facing Kings Square, should also only be approved if it contains residential apartments that would help with the passive surveillance of the square and day and night activation.

Without residential and/or tourist accommodation at Kings Square it will remain a dark and uninviting place at night in the centre of the city, a few street level bars or cafes within the KS poject won’t be enough. That is even more of a worry when the planned hotels at Cantonment Street and Point Street are built, as hundreds of visitors would walk through the deserted and hence unsafe area to the cafes and restaurants west of the square.

Roel Loopers

ATWELL ARCADE DEVELOPMENT ON THE MOVE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, western australia by freoview on April 4, 2016

Atwell 1

 

The scaffolding is coming down at the Fremantle Atwell Arcade development, so we will see some activity there in the next few months when it officially opens.

It is not a great building and that is disappointing, but it is also not at intrusive and offensive as I feared it might be. It is basically boring when it could have been inspiring.

Better architecture should be a must for every development in Fremantle, but how can we legislate for it so that it becomes reality?

Roel Loopers

 

NO DEMOLITION WITHOUT DEVELOPMENT PLANS

Posted in development, fremantle by freoview on March 18, 2016

office choice development

 

The owners of the Port Stationary building in Fremantle’s High Street have applied to demolish the building, without showing plans for the development of the site.

The exterior of the building is very bland next to the majestic heritage buildings to the east and west of it, so I personally see no issues with demolishing it. I would however make approval to allow that subject to first seeing the building development plans, otherwise we might end up with an ugly vacant site in the heritage street for years, and that would not be acceptable.

No doubt architect Ben Braham, who is the son of the building owner, could produce a stunning design for a great building that will compliment the streetscape more than the ugly building that is there now.

No demolition without development plans though! We are experiencing what it look like at Point and Queen Adelaide street where buildings were demolished to make way for the Hilton Doubletree hotel development that is now delayed for at least two years, leaving Freo with an ugly site.

Roel Loopers

THERE IS HOPE. FREMANTLE HAS A PULSE!

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on March 12, 2016

The City of Fremantle PULSE magazine was delivered in my letter box, so here a few facts I picked up:

# Over 500 residential apartments are under construction in central Fremantle.

# Over 150,000 cruise ship passengers are expected to visit Fremantle this year.

# Fremantle’s population is forecast to grow to over 42,000 people by 2036. It stands at around 30,000 now.

# Fremantle’s CBD vacancy rate has reduced from 10.7% to 9.2%. Out of 641 premises 59 ground level retail and offices are vacant. This is better than many national and international trends.

# Fremantle’s annual budget has grown to over $ 100 million and the city’s capacity to invest in major projects has significantly improved.

Roel Loopers

 

DECENTRALISATION NOT SUCCESSFUL IN PERTH

Posted in fremantle, perth, planning by freoview on March 4, 2016

The FACTBase reports by the Committee for Perth are always interesting reading and the latest one on the failure of decentralisation is another one worth reading.

CfP concludes that despite many strategic activity centres being created for decades, the City of Perth still remains the number one destination for workers. More than 123,000 people commute to Perth daily.

The objective of getting people to work closer to home has not been achieved the Committee for Perth said, and there is a disparity between the number of jobs on offer and the number of workers in areas such as Cockburn, Melville and Rockingham in the southern suburbs, as well as Joondalup, Wanneroo, Armadale and Gosnells.

Committee for Perth CEO Marion Fulker said that “Interestingly, many of the people who are commuting to work are actually living in or near strategic development centres.”

The strategic metropolitan centres are Fremantle, Rockingham, Mandurah, Joondalup, Armadale, Midland, Morley, Cannington, Stirling.

We in Fremantle have been waiting for years for the State Government to move departments here to help restart the economy and help Freo to become an activity hub with many more office workers coming to work here and hopefully relocating and becoming residents of Fremantle.

Traffic congestion during peak hours is becoming worse and worse and people reject public transport because of over-crowded trains and busses, so decentralised activity hubs that offer real job opportunities are very important for the future of the Perth metropolitan area that is rapidly growing, but not coping with the population boom.

Roel Loopers

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