Freo's View


Posted in city of fremantle, development, economy, hotel, housing, tourism by freoview on March 19, 2017

This photo taken from the top of the Fremantle Townhall on Friday has historic significance for Fremantle as the inner east CBD will look very different in a few years from now with major development plans for the area.

In about five years we will see the new Woolstores shopping centre commercial, hotel and student development by Silverleaf, the Point Street Hilton Doubletree hotel project, and the eight-storey residential development of the former Spotlight building, and just beyond that the residential development next to the Hotel Australia at Beach Street.

Roel Loopers


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



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, western australia by freoview on March 7, 2017


Two big new developments in the Fremantle CBD are not far from reality. My ears are always on the ground and my eyes on the ball to pick up interesting news on the Freo grapevine and this news is huge!

It hear the derelict woolstores building opposite Clancy’s could be developed in the not too far distance. My informants tell me that Sirona Capital has shown interest in developing the heritage-listed building opposite Princess May Park that is owned by Marilyn New, the former owner of the Esplanade Hotel.

This eyesore has been an embarrassment for decades for Fremantle residents and businesses and a very ugly welcome sign for cruise ship passengers, so it would be great to see it developed and the building occupied again.

There will be a meeting about the plans at Hotel Australia next week, but I doubt it will be a public meeting.

In other news I hear that Freo developers Silverleaf have submitted their proposal to the City of Fremantle for a mixed development on the Woolstores shopping centre site at Cantonment Street.

The initial plans were not very good I have been told and the developers got frustrated having to change them several times while working with CoF planning officers and the Design Advisory Committee, but one elected member told me that the submitted plans “look surprisingly good.”

Planning Scheme Amendment 49 for that specific location allows for up to 11 storeys, if my memory is correct, so expect the proposal to be for a very large and high development.

My understanding is that the development will happen in two stages and that it involves a hotel, commercial and residential floor space and ground-level retail, so stay tuned.

The development of these two major sites in the East CBD is huge, especially in context of the planned and approved Hilton Doubletree, Spotlight and former Energy Museum sites developments.

The modernisation of that part of the inner city that is known as ‘Little Beirut’ will greatly enhance Fremantle’s tourism and retail potential and is another significant step forward to a prosperous future for our city.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, development, heritage by freoview on February 24, 2017

The City of Fremantle will pay the Fremantle Dockers $ 1,5 million over three years for the football club’s administration building and for them to relinquish the lease over Fremantle Oval.

This is a very good outcome for Fremantle as the Dockers initially wanted over $ 9 million and up till two weeks ago a sum of $ 4 million was still on the cards.

It means the City can now continue with its Fremantle Oval development plans and also temporarily move staff there while the new Civic Centre is built at Kings Square.

The development of the precinct south of Kings Square is a very important one, so interesting to hear that Fremantle developers Silverleaf, who bought the former  Court and Police complex at Henderson Street, have also acquired all the Warders Cottages east of William Street, so expect a development there in a few years time.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development by freoview on February 6, 2017


Word at the Fremantle  Woolstores shopping centre is that development of the site will start in six months, so I am keen to see plans for the development.

There has not been public consultation yet about the plans but I hear the developers are quite frustrated getting knocked back at the Design Advisory Committee of the City of Fremantle.

It is going to be a huge and very high development so it is essential for the CoF to stay firm and for developers Silverleaf to be patient because it is essential that we are getting outstanding architecture in the inner city.

Just over the road at the Point Street carpark site there are still no signs the Hilton Doubletree hotel development will get under way any time soon, although they need to get started in the first quarter of this year. Hurry up please because the vacant site is an eyesore.

That makes me question why developers are allowed to demolish buildings when they do not have a commencement date for development. The shops were used as pop-ups and at least created some activity in the area and looked a whole lot better than the Adelaide desert we now have to look at.

Roel Loopers


Posted in art, fremantle, heritage by freoview on January 16, 2017

There are new art studios in Fremantle in the old police station in Henderson Street. Some already rented by artists who will have to leave Many 6160 at Kings Square once the development of the civic square starts mid year.

TRIPLE ZERO is not an emergency but the creative name of the new art complex that is owned by Fremantle development company Silverleaf, which bought the Henderson Street courthouse and police complex last year.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, atwell arcade, city of fremantle, economy, hospitality, retail, shopping by freoview on November 23, 2016

I had a look inside the renovated Atwell Arcade building and was very impressed with some of the stunning office spaces they have created on the first floor above Cotton On and the other shops in the High Street Mall.

There is no doubt in my mind that this development is good for the Fremantle retail and hospitality industries and our city overall.

Cotton On will open this Friday and looks very impressive and the modern arcade looks inviting.

Maybe some of the heritage character has been lost but I believe the development is a real gain for Freo and a milestone for the revival of Fremantle.

As I have said before the exterior of the new building is not outstanding but for me an acceptable compromise in this location because it angles away as a huge set back and it appears very soft against the blue sky.


Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government by freoview on October 31, 2016



On Thursday morning Premier Colin Barnett will officially open the renovated Warders Cottages in Fremantle’s Henderson Street after the historic buildings were vacant and neglected for many years.

It is fantastic to also see the former Gunners Cottages at Cantonment Hill renovated and occupied by Defence personnel as they too had been empty and neglected for far too long.

It is a very welcome sight indeed to see the old cottages back in their old glory, but it has been a long battle. The Fremantle Society, MLA Simone McGurk, former MP Melissa Parke and the City of Fremantle all deserve credit for keeping the pressure on state and federal governments to get the cottages renovated and occupied again.

The restoration of the heritage cottages is an indication of the start of the renaissance of Fremantle with an unprecedented building boom in our city.

The Heirloom by Match apartment building will open in December, and opposite from it work on the huge Defence Housing residential building complex will commence early next year. Just down the road from there next to St Patrick’s and the Australia Hotel another apartment building will be erected soon, opposite the new one that opened last year on Queen Victoria Street.

The former Energy Museum is also going to be developed for residential and hospitality, the Hilton Doubletree hotel building down the road from there in Adelaide Street will start in the second quarter of next year, and there are plans for a residential building at the former Spotlight site, and also huge plans for the Woolstores shopping centre site at Cantonment Street.

The Kings Square project appears back on track with Sirona Capital just finalising the lease arrangements with the State Government, so with some luck building there will also start next year. There are also plans for a tourist accommodation building at the Mills records site.

The Atwell Arcade is near completion and so are the Quest Hotel and another residential building in Pakenham Street, while the MSC has moved into the new building at Cliff Street and the former Elders building. A few metres from there Notre Dame University has plans for a new building on the corner of High Street.

There are plans for the development of the Fremantle Oval precinct, once the City of Fremantle can boot out the annoyingly greedy Fremantle Dockers, and in South Fremantle new apartments built by Match will go up opposite the Local Hotel. An awkward-looking apartment building has also been erected on the corner of Douro Road and Hulbert Street.

The Be. tourist motel at Bathers Bay is also growing with new apartments added to it.

The big development players in town are Silverleaf, Match and Sirona Capital.

I am delighted that there is so much and substantial development in Fremantle that will make a positive difference to our city. It will no doubt bring a resurgence in new retailers also opening up shop in Fremantle in the near future, but I am frustrated and disappointed about the lack of class and creativity of most buildings proposed for our character city.

Have I overlooked other major development happening or planned in Freo? Tell me what I have forgotten to mention!

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development by freoview on October 21, 2016



With the rumoured sale of the Fremantle Manning Estate in High and Market Street to Fremantle property developers Silverleaf the debate on what is good and bad development for Fremantle will continue.

Silverleaf have been criticised for the buildings along Queen Street, opposite Target and also for the Atwell Arcade development, and will be developing the Woolstores shopping centre site in the near future and also the former Court House site in Henderson Street.

The Manning Estate site is clearly prime development opportunity and it is likely the developers will want character-changing additional height in the centre of Fremantle, so how can State and Local governments legislate for beautiful architecture to protect cities from inappropriate and boring development, who will be the judge on beauty?

I was thinking about this the other day when an architecture lecturer at one of the universities told me she hates the new MSC building in Cliff Street, designed by Murray Slavin Architects, while I really like the building. Who is right? Nobody clearly as we all have different tastes and that makes legislating for aesthetics near impossible.

I thought about it again when I read the Fremantle Society attack on the Atwell Arcade and Bank building by Silverleaf, as I don’t mind the new Atwell building that blends in adequately. I also like the corner of Cantonment and Queen streets building but not the corner of Queen and Adelaide street that is more suited to O’Connor.

Beauty is extremely subjective but somehow we need to have stronger guidelines on what is appropriate for specific sites. The west end needs to be treated with extreme sensitivity and care while east of Kings Square I am happy to see a bit of height and density, but that is just my opinion that no doubt will be challenged by others.

It is not easy to be a Councillor or planner at local government!

Roel Loopers


Posted in development, fremantle, western australia by freoview on October 16, 2016

In major news for the Fremantle CBD the Fremantle Society claims that Fremantle developers Silverleaf are buying the Manning Estate in Fremantle High, Market and William streets for $ 31 million. The property has 26 shops and offices and is in a prime development location that is surrounded by significant heritage buildings.

If the reports are correct this would be a huge new property for Silverleaf, who already own several large properties in Fremantle, such as the Woolstores shopping centre site, the Atwell Arcade, the old courthouse and police station in Henderson Street and the bank building on Queen Street, etc.

Roel Loopers


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