Where would you put a government office in Fremantle?

I’d be interested to know what you think the best site for a State Government office for the Department of Housing is in Fremantle? It is very exciting that a new government office will be moving from Perth to Fremantle but now the challenge will be finding the best place to build a new office building for around 1000 workers (15-20,000m2) in central Fremantle in time for them to move in a few years.

The old Fremantle Woolstores is appealing on one level as it would see that heritage building restored with a lot of the original fabric –  like the amazing jarrah floorboards  – remain and be made visible.. On the other hand having it right in the centre of Fremantle around Kings Square also makes a lot of sense in terms of getting these new office workers activating and enjoying the heart of Fremantle.

Great to have choices on such an important announcement for Freo.

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

10 Responses to Where would you put a government office in Fremantle?

  1. Roger Garwood says:

    This is a positive move but do we know if the city will be paid a mere token payment in lieu of rates or will the government pay rates based on property valuation? We already have a number of government offices and services in Fremantle and it is my understanding they do not pay rates, in much the same way as Notre Dame, but pay a fixed sum which amounts to several million dollars per annum short of the correct rates.
    If these instrumentalities paid full rates it may be possible for the city to consider easing its draconian parking policy which is arguable doing more to destroy Fremantle’s trade than any other single factor.
    And do we have a real choice of location? Does the city or the government own the wool stores? Are they in a position to choose?
    Citizens of Fremantle have, in the past few years, experienced large increases in rates while at the same time services have been cut back.

    • Roger, while I do believe that they should pay full rates I think that even if they don’t pay them in full that it is still a very positive shift for Fremantle in terms of job and economic activity. Neglected buildings don’t pay full rates either.
      cheers, Brad
      PS I also suggest you check out Channel 7 new tonight you will see Fremantle has one of the lowest rates rises in the whole of Perth

      • Roger Garwood says:

        Well, yes, re rates. I’d hope so. We’ve had enough rises in the past four years.

        Strangely, when Customs built their new office in Fremantle, many years back, there was no apparent increase in local trade. What is going to make this influx so different? The influx of workers made little change to the viability of the West End – it still sank commercially. And Customs are actually based in the West End.
        With regard to vacant properties not paying rates are you telling us that vacant properties are exempt or pay reduced rates? A plausible move, and I have suggested this before, would be for council to double rates on empty properties. If they are still vacant after six months, double them again and so on. When they are leased return rates to a normal level. This would discourage greedy landlords from leaving properties empty.
        And you haven’t answered the pertinent question – do the government have a choice in relation to the building? I guess that as the owner is somewhat right of centre she could strike a favourable deal with the government!

      • Roger.
        I have no doubt an almost 30% increase in workers in Freo will have a huge impact.
        We do double rates if whole buildings aren’t rent-able such a Woolstores but we can’t go beyond that under that act unfortunately.
        I still don’t udnerstand you’re last question exactly. The government will choose the location of the office based on best business plan presented

  2. janinemarshall says:

    Great news about the State Government office for the Department of Housing will be in Fremantle.
    I personally think, and I’m no designer or architect obviously but I do have a good imagination, that the Old Fremantle Woolstores would make fabulous apartments rather than be turned into offices. Theres plenty of space for some really cool and unique 1 or 2 bed apartments and is situated in a great place for people to want to live. Jarrah floorboards, timber beams, an awesome blend of new and old, a roof garden or internal courtyard maybe, large foyer area, chill out room, music area for artists (minds working over time now) quick walk into fremantle, it would certainly attract a good market. Id love to see pictures of inside it or even have a look, I’m very interested to see what it looks like on the inside.
    I think what you have wrote above sums up the best place for the location of important offices and that being right in the centre of Kings Square – activation!

    Thats just my two cents worth anyway…

  3. cathyhall2 says:

    Some of them at Henderson St Warders Cottages till new premises built or refurbished 😉

  4. Roger Garwood says:

    Sorry Brad, my reading was that the Woolstores may be an option which is on the cards. But another pertinent question. Does the owner of the Woolstores already pay double rates on the building? If so why not let it remain until a private entity operates it commercially as the city will gain more from an empty building’s rates than from an operating government office?
    I think the notion of an increased of 30% in the workforce may have significant impact on the city’s retail could be fanciful. Unless of course there is a viable housing option to keep them in the city.
    It would also, in light of the revised Match development, be sensible to ensure that no height increase in the Woolstores is allowed, thus retaining the character of a historical precinct as well as the remaining character of the building which is recognised world wide is being a masterpiece of functional architecture. That character should now be maintained at all cost and the Coles site’s proposed high rise development should be reigned in to the maximum height of the existing wool stores.
    The current proposal for 10 (effectively 11 stories) is inconceivable. While Andrew Sullivan trots out his manta that Valencia is a city with some excellent examples of modern, high quality, architecture (he’s right, it’s beautiful) he fails to mention that non of it is higher than the existing city’s excellent historical architecture.

  5. Sean Vincent says:

    Sounds like a great boon for Fremantle, and a perfect opportunity to set the East End redevelopment into full swing. Central Perth’s high rents can only be the gain of Fremantle and other second tier commercial centres. I’m guessing with the current government cost optimisation drive, there could be more departments up for moving as well, so there’s more potential for Freo.

    Doing a back of the envelope type calculation, if you have 50% of a workforce eating in Fremantle for lunch daily (excluding doing much of their other local shopping in Freo as well) at $15 a head, you could see a potential net affect of $2m into local business. I wont pretend to know the underlying rate issues, but an additional perpetual revenue stream to Fremantle through an increase in the daily workforce I’m sure would excite local business.

    Personally, I believe that a potential anchor to Sirona’s redevelopment of the Myer building could be a winner. From what I’ve read and seen, they have a model in place and are ready to push the button.

    Also, a potential PPP with the state government, Fremantle council and an experienced developer for the Point Street block could work. A potential full mix-use development could add both a permanent workforce, along with fresh supply of inner city apartments and residents.

    Another could be the redevelopment of the Queens Street carpark, or even an anchor to the proposed redevelopment of Woolstores Shopping Centre (though I’m not sure what the timeline on that one is).

    Regarding the old Woolstores site, I would prefer seeing that turn into residential along the lines of the original plans (hotel/residential) and that of the Match development down the road. It’s a great old building and has much potential. I guess you could always press Ms New on that one Brad.

    Last comment for Roger, I can guarantee you first hand that Valencia has many buildings in it’s centre above the arbitrary 5-7 story height of most major European centres. Scroll down this page or just google “Valencia City Scape” to see what I mean (http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valencia). Anyways, that debate is for another time.

    Anyways, I best be off to pack for my 10 days in Corsica haha 😉 Looking forward to seeing the outcome of this one.


  6. daniel sieber says:

    Hi Brad,

    I can’t entirely share your enthusiasm over this announcement since an arrangement like this and its impact on a location can be observed right now in East Perth.

    Silver City which is home to the Education Department and next door the Health Department, the adjacent ABC and TAFE must add up to 1000+ workers that swamp East Perth on a daily basis from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. You’d think that this location would be perfect since it’s on the Claisebrook train line and has Cat Services to and from the CBD, however it appears that most of these people choose to commute in the comfort of their own car since you need to secure parking before 8AM on one of the vast parking field between the offices and the train line.

    In terms of opportunities for local business, these Departments are serviced appart from their own canteens by approximately 3 coffee shops, a sandwich and sushi shop and a couple of additional ones should one wish to walk for 10 minutes towards the Claisebrook inlet. These shops run from 8AM to 5PM to supplement the many colourful lunch boxes that are brought along.

    After 5PM East Perth turns into a place of tumble weed – a little bit like Fremantle CBD right now, which is after all what we want to change with all recent amendments to policy.

    Yes, Fremantle needs more workers and residents that is not disputed, however in my opinion there needs to be a greater balance of people living here and a culture of smaller but many more businesses that offer a variety of services other than the ones needed to support a lunch break for thousand(s) of DIDO (drive in drive out) workers or the weekend influx of our well cared for tourists. The implications on a community and city that such business monoculture harbors short and long term are apparent by our current tourism model that will not improve the quality of life in Fremantle by throwing the DIDO model into the mix.

    Visit East Perth, it’s devoid of community spirit – the epitome of what can go wrong.

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