The Atwell Arcade’s Biggest Makeover in a Century Almost Complete
September 14, 2016 5 Comments
Two years ago the Fremantle Council held a special meeting to consider and approve the plans for the biggest makeover in a century of the Atwell Arcade: https://cofremantle.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/atwell-arcade-to-get-to-get-its-biggest-makeover-in-a-century/
Two years on the development is almost complete and the Atwell Arcade is set to reopen soon. Over 300 office workers have already moved in above the arcade with some of the first A Grade Office space built in Fremantle in many years.
But not only is this a good economic outcome in terms of having more people working in the centre of Fremantle but this development has also been an impressive heritage outcome.
Local property owners and developers Silverleaf have done an impressive job of restoring the two heritage-listed buildings on the High Street Mall and the Cantonment Street ends of the arcade. Externally, the damaging acrylic paints that for decades stopped the heritage building breathing have been carefully removed so the buildings are not only returned their original heritage form but will also perform better. I have pasted some historic photos below to remind of us of how they used to look.
In addition, internally some of the stunning, original heritage features have also been revealed for the first time in many, many decades.
In addition to the hundreds of office workers upstairs there is some great new retail down stairs. Roel Looper’s Freoview pointed out that on the Cantonment Street end there was an interesting tendency towards the shops all starting with “H” including Hype DC, Hemp Shop and Hush.
Amusingly this trend continues on the High Street Mall side with the letter “C” being the defining letter: City Beach, Culley’s, Creations Jeweller, and the soon to open Cotton On Mega will populate this end of the Atwell Arcade.
Having a new major retailer like Cotton On Mega in central Fremantle is a great step forward as we rebuild Fremantle’s retail diversity. Unlike the smaller Cotton On on Adelaide Street, this Cotton On brand actually combines a range of stores into one mini-department store format. This is how Cotton On plan to take on the mini-majors like H&M as this Age article from last month explain.
Interestingly, from a heritage perspective it is a bit like a return to the days of Pellews in the Atwell Arcade (see photos above) which was a mini-department store in its own way. My Mum was telling me just the other day how she remembers getting her school uniform here as a teenager.
While some people have said they don’t like the new office building, I personally think it looks pretty good. I would also add it is a credit the the architects who worked with Freo’s Design Advisory Committee to make it a lot better than some of the earlier iterations
Overall, this is a terrific outcome for Fremantle both from a heritage perspective and from an economic development perspective with high quality office jobs and high quality retail retained and attracted to central Fremantle. Interestingly, it is also Freo’s very first green-star rated office building.
In fact you could say that the Attwell Arcade development is a good example of the sustainable redevelopment of Freo that is underway.