Freo's View

FREMANTLE IS NOT FALLING APART

Posted in art, city of fremantle, fremantle festival, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on August 17, 2018

 

Arcs D'Ellipse

 

This is one of the last blog posts I am publishing about the removal issues with the Felice Varini yellow Arcs D’Ellipse artwork in Fremantle’s High Street, until the City of Fremantle has appointed a contractor and let us know the final costs of it.

But with all the negativity at the end of the artwork’s life I want to point out something we should not forget and underestimate in all of this.

There is absolutely no doubt from the many days that I was in the far West End-that is every day of the year-that there was a significant increase in visitors to Arthur’s Head, who were queueing up on the steps to get photos of the great optical illusion.

The expressions of delighted surprise when they ‘discovered’ the artwork were a real joy to watch and business owners nearby noticed a definite increase in visitors, as did the Roundhouse.

The promotion and marketing value of tens of thousands of photos being shared on social media of Freo’s historic High Street are immeasurable and something you just can not achieve with most tourism campaigns.

The High Tide Biennale that was under the umbrella of the Fremantle Festival added a new and very creative dimension to the tired festival and I can’t wait for next year to see what they come up with.

Yes, it is disappointing that there are serious issues with the removal of the artwork, but that is now being professionally addressed by the City of Fremantle. It is a very expensive inconvenience, but not a disaster. Fremantle is not falling apart, we did not have an earthquake like the poor people of Lombok, but we had an outstanding artwork by an internationally renowned artist that put us on the map as a progressive and creative city.  Let’s keep it in perspective!

Roel Loopers

THE GREATER FREMANTLE ACTION PLAN

 

chamber function

 

Future Freo chairman Adrian Fini launched the Greater Fremantle Action Plan by the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce in the Australia II gallery of the Maritime Museum on Thursday evening, in front of Minister Simone McGurk, Mayor Brad Pettitt and several councillors and CoF staff, as well as representatives from Notre Dame University, Fremantle Port, Silverleaf Investments and business leaders.

The 28-page Action Plan is well worth reading and I assume the Chamber will put it on line, as it is too substantial to address every item in it here on the blog.

FCOC chair Ivan Dzeba said that Fremantle is already a great place but it can be better, while Adrian Fini said that we do need change and will fall apart if we don’t move forward.

We need to ask ourselves what is Fremantle’s strength and cultural identity, and we have great opportunities which need great leadership, but growth in technology will take shoppers away, but Fremantle has unique offerings that other shopping precincts do not have.

There is a deep journey ahead that demand teamwork with council, businesses and the community working together, Fini said.

The Greater Fremantle Action Plan records Freo’s strengths as having:

  • Dynamic economy particularly in transport and related industries, the arts and receational services, accommodation, food and health care
  • A unique profile consisting of heritage strength and character
  • Fremantle Port remains Fremantle’s most important industry
  • Fremantle has a unique combination of the knowledge economy and creative industries
  • Health services and related sectors continue to play an important role despite the downsizing of Fremantle Hospital
  • Fremantle has a global reputation as a tourist destination

 

So what are the plans for action?

 

Create the Conditions

  • Business attraction plan
  • Destination marketing campaign
  • Develop financial incentives
  • Policy and regulation review
  • Complete structure plan
  • Develop infrastructure to support a cultural plan

Connecting People, Places & Markets

  • Planning for affordable housing
  • Improvements to urban realm in commercial areas
  • Improvements to public transport
  • Sophisticated city centre parking plan
  • Connected cycle path network
  • Improvements to regional connections
  • Improvements to visitor booths and wayfinding
  • Improvements to pedestrian access

Promoting our Place

  • Broader and more unified approach to marketing
  • Develop relevant Fremantle ‘apps’
  • Unique brand development
  • Expand toursim accommodation
  • Explore new tourism opportunities
  • Grow conference/events industry

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

PEDESTRIAN PRIORITY AT FREMANTLE OVAL PROJECT

 

 

When Fremantle Council and the Fremantle Oval reference and steering groups are looking at the potential and opportunities for the development and activation of the area one of their main priorities must be the connectivity between the north and the south of Parry Street, as this is going to be a major challenge.

Pedestrian crossing is already a challenge on weekends when the Fremantle Markets are open. The roundabout at William Street is not the safest place to cross Parry Street since motorists are occupied with navigating the roundabout and rarely give way to pedestrians who are on their way to the oval or Fremantle Prison.

The entire precinct will attract a lot more people when Fremantle Oval is activated and when Silverleaf Investments have developed the police and justice complex down the road with a hotel and community spaces and activation, so vehicular and pedestrian movement will increase substantially.

When one also considers that the City of Fremantle has plans to extend Norfolk Street all the way to Mews Road in the Fishing Boat Harbour, which will make Parry Street even more into a ring road, one can start contemplating the challenges ahead to create safe pedestrian access between the markets and the oval.

Serious thoughts need to be had about a possible pedestrian underpass or at least a zebra crossing somewhere halfway along Parry Street between William Street and South Terrace.

There will be events and concerts at Fremantle Oval and residential and commercial accommodation in new buildings to the south and west of it, and the Kings Square activation project will bring heaps more people to that part of Freo, so a lot more people will be in the area, that already is home to two of Fremantle’s most popular tourist attractions Fremantle Prison and the Fremantle Markets.

If Fremantle Council is serious about making Parry Street even more into a ring road from Queen Victoria Street in the north east of the CBD all the way to the Fishing Boat Harbour, it will need to address especially pedestrian connectivity and safety between the new developments in the precinct as a priority.

Roel Loopers

TWO GOOD HERITAGE RESTORATIONS IN FREO’S WEST END

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, notre dame university, Uncategorized by freoview on August 7, 2018

 

heritage 1

heritage 2

 

While the concerns about damage to the heritage High Street buildings in Fremantle continue, two heritage restorations just around the corner are happening almost unnoticed.

In Cliff Street Notre Dame University contractors are doing a splendid job on the ‘Wedding Wall’ with most of the arches now re-opened. It will look great when finished and will become a real heritage feature in the West End.

On the corner of Pakenham and Leake streets the PSAS building, with a grant from the Heritage Council, is also being restored.

Roel Loopers

 

Henty's

FREMANTLE ESPLANADE HOTEL FOR SALE

Posted in accommodation, city of fremantle, esplanade, hospitality, hotel, property, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on August 2, 2018

 

Fremantle’s iconic Esplanade Hotel is for sale! The historic hotel which opened in 1897 is on the market and is expected to attract offers of around $ 110 million.

The  300 room hotel was sold by long-time owner Marylyn New only six years ago in 2012 for just $ 90 million.

The Esplanade Hotel  has been refurbished and restored and is receiving most of its revenue from tourist accommodation and conferences.

It is being sold with a 3043sqm site opposite the hotel at 7 Essex Street, that has 172 parking bays, and a 78sqm leased retail tenancy and a 314sqm office.

I am not sure if Marine House, opposite the hotel, has been sold yet. It was put on the market about half a year ago.

CBRE’s Aaron Desange, Ryan McGinnity and Chloe Mason have been appointed to sell the hotel, so if you got a hundred million dollars under the bed, contact them.

 

Roel Loopers

DOES ECONOMIC REALITY DEMAND FREMANTLE DEVELOPMENT PRAGMATISM?

 

coles-woolstore-six-floors-2

 

The latest development proposal by Silverleaf Investments for the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre site was released last week and has already received criticism that it is boring and ugly, so where from here? I have been thinking long and hard about this conundrum, so here my thoughts.

I agree that this proposal is yet again not for an outstanding iconic building of exceptional design, but I also believe we need to be pragmatic about this if we want the current eyesore to disappear.

From past proposals we can deduct that it is highly unlikely that Silverleaf will ever build and iconic building in Fremantle. Great architecture and aesthetics don’t appear to be a priority for the company, so should Fremantle Council reject this latest proposal as well, or should they approve it so we just can get on with it, because Fremantle desperately needs development in that run down inner east of the CBD?

I believe that the development of the Woolstores, Spotlight site and Hilton Doubletree hotel, together with the Kings Square redevelopment are part of the critical mass to turn Fremantle’s economic, retail, tourism and hospitality fortunes around and attract many more people to our city. If that is the case the community unfortunately will have to compromise on the aesthetics, or we’ll end up with the Woolstores ugliness for another 2-3 decades.

Silverleaf director Gerard O’Brien told me at the FREO NOW launch on Friday that Coles will leave if the shopping centre is not developed, and that Target will also close its doors. Fremantle cannot afford to let that happen, I believe.

The proposed six storey addition is in my opinion not great but not an eyesore, and it would definitely be an improvement to what is there at present. So maybe the reality that Fremantle does not have the luxury of being too picky, because we desperately need development, should be part of more pragmatic decision making.

Silverleaf is a major player in Fremantle, with the exciting development of the former justice complex in Henderson Street and a new hotel there imminent, as well as the development of the Manning building in the mall and William Street, so do we want them to walk away from developing the Woolstores site because the proposal is not iconic and visually attractive enough, or do we prioritise economic necessity over aesthetic beauty in that unattractive part of the inner city?

Let’s be clear and honest that up to know all new commercial buildings approved in Fremantle over that last years are not of outstanding design quality, but for the MSC building in Cliff Street. The Myer and Queensgate buildings at Kings Square are not great architecture and neither are the LIV apartment building, or the approved Hilton hotel and Little Lane developments.

Some people who hate high buildings can be happy that the new Woolstores proposal is for only six storeys, so a lot lower than the previous proposal, that was rejected by JDAP because it lacked the architectural excellence required to receive the two storey additional discretionary height allowance.

I was worried the last few years that the Hilton Doubletree development might not go ahead, and although I have been critical about the design of the building, I am happy that the SKS group will now start on the development this year, because I strongly believe that these developments in the east CBD are critical, and once open will make a big positive difference for our struggling Freo traders.

I love outstanding modern architecture and I am disappointed that we don’t seem to attract any of that in Fremantle, but in this case I am for compromise and pragmatism, even when I know I will be heavily criticised for it by some people in our community.

I am looking forward to receiving your opinions, pro or contra, as this is a discussion we need to have.

Roel Loopers

REPLACE DAMAGED BATHERS BEACH PATH LIGHTS

 

Vandalism of the waist-high solar lights along the dune path at Bathers Beach is an ongoing concern and it looks terrible, but all the City of Fremantle does is costly repairs.

I hear that City staff have suggested that the solution is to put two or three large poles with solar floods along the path, that would have a wider spread of light and help to make the area feel safer, but this has been rejected because larger poles would not be in keeping with the heritage of Arthur’s Head.

Are they really suggesting that the damaged small lights are better at the path that is very popular with tourists than a few long poles?

Roel Loopers

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THE REPUBLIC OF FREMANTLE

 

An application for a tavern and gin distillery at 3 Pakenham Street in Fremantle’s historic West End will be considered at Wednesday’s Planning Committee.

The Republic of Fremantle would occupy the former warehouse, that was most recently used as a cafe and photographic gallery, and accommodate up to 350 patrons, including 28 in the alfresco parklet.

Ground level would have a bar, kitchen and toilets, while the mezzanine level would be for a bar and lounge function area.

The operators want to conduct gin distillery tours and classes.

Food would be available during all operating hours of the tavern, up to one hour prior to closing time, which would be Monday to Friday 11am to midnight and Saturday and Sundays 9 am to midnight.

There would be 20-25 staff employed in the tavern and two in the distillery.

I believe this would be a very good new addition to the West End and help the much-desired evening activation of the area.

Roel Loopers

 

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FREO’S HISTORIC WEDDING WALL BEAUTIFICATION

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, notre dame university, Uncategorized by freoview on July 25, 2018

 

NDA 1

NDA 2

 

It is very good to see that the lovely so-called Wedding Wall in Fremantle’s historic West End is being returned to its old glory by builders Fairweather.

Notre Dame University is paying for the renovations of the Cliff Street wall, which are supervised by the City of Fremantle.

Plans to turn the carpark behind the wall into a public open space, maybe a park or a playground, are still under consideration by the university, I was told this morning, so stay tuned.

The renovations of the heritage-listed wall mean that the bricked up arched doors and windows are re-opened and additional support for the wall is being put at the back. Well done NDA!

Roel Loopers

 

Henty's

FREO NOW RETAIL SUPPORT LAUNCH

Posted in bid, city of fremantle, hospitality, retail,, shopping, Uncategorized by freoview on July 24, 2018

 

37624267_1772060296175426_91778198370516992_n

 

The Freo Now-formerly Fremantle BID-Board is planning on how they can help small businesses over the next 12 months!

If you want to hear more come to the official launch this Friday from 5.30pm at the National Hotel – first drink is free!

Roel Loopers

 

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