Fremantle, we have a problem? Yes and the fix is underway

Yesterday Nathan Hondros wrote an opinion piece in WA Today called Fremantle, we have a problem. I love you but you have to change

Here is the response I sent to Nathan:

G’day Nathan

In your article about Fremantle published this morning you asked this key question – ‘The entire city feels like it’s crying out for private investment, so why isn’t it happening?’

The answer is – it is happening.

There is currently more than $1.3 billion worth of public and private development either underway or in the pipeline in Fremantle – more than at any time in Freo’s history.

The $270 million (not $220 million) Kings Square Renewal project is a public/private partnership, with the City of Fremantle contributing $50 million to construct our new administration building and library and Sirona Capital contributing $220 million for the FOMO retail development – which has been shortlisted for an international architecture award – state government office space and the redevelopment of the Queensgate carpark.

This project has been the catalyst for an unprecedented level of private investment in the run-down East End of central Fremantle.

There’s the recently completed Heirloom apartments in the old Dalgety Woolstores, the Liv Apartments on Queen Victoria Street, which are nearing completion, the Little Lane development in the old Westgate Mall, Ancora Apartments on Point Street, M/27 near Fremantle Park, and Established and The Social apartments in the West End.

As a result of all these new apartments we expect Fremantle’s city centre population to grow by 65 per cent over the next ten years, which will in turn mean many more customers for local businesses.

But your suggested solution that ‘Fremantle should be for living and Perth should be for working’ is perhaps the most troubling aspect of your article.

Cities work best when they are places that people can live and work and play in – not just one or the other.

Fremantle has always been Perth’s second city and we are not just increasing residents but also jobs and visitors.

In addition to the 1500 new jobs in the Kings Square office components, the City of Fremantle is also enabling investment in new retail, tourism and hospitality venues.

For example, the City has recently approved the redevelopment of the Old Courthouse and Police Station into a hotel, restaurant and shops, the conversion of a row of the Warders’ Cottages into a boutique hotel and an upgrade of the historic Manning Buildings on the High St Mall, while the developers behind the planned Doubletree by Hilton hotel have recently sought approval to bring the project forward.

In total, all of this investment is delivering more than 1600 new dwellings, 727 new hotel rooms, almost 39,000m2 of retail and hospitality space and 44,000m2 of office space.

And all of this has been made possible because of the decisions of “the loopy, socialist Fremantle council.”

While you might think Fremantle is ‘sad’, it appears the majority of people disagree with you.

Research by Tourism WA last year found that Fremantle was Perth’s most popular entertainment precinct across all age groups. The year before Fremantle was rated as one of the top ten cities in the world to visit by Lonely Planet.

And a final comment on parking. There’s plenty of parking in Fremantle – over 4000 bays. People just need to be prepared walk a short distance to get to where they’re going.

And if many of those bays are full – surely that’s a sign that Fremantle is a popular place that people like to visit.

It’s true that Fremantle – like all cities – has its challenges, and we are working hard to address them.

But those challenges don’t stop Freo from being a great place live and a great place to visit.

Some links FYI:

FOMO architecture award nomination –

Freo Perth’s favourite entertainment precinct –

Liv Apartments –

Little Lane –

Ancora  –

M/27 –

The Social –

Old Courthouse –

Warders Cottages Hotel –

Manning Buildings –


About Deputy Mayor of Fremantle blog
City of Fremantle Deputy Mayor

16 Responses to Fremantle, we have a problem? Yes and the fix is underway

  1. curiousjulz says:

    Great response. Nathan’s comment about working/living also struck me as extremely odd.

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  2. johnwv says:

    I’m not reading the article or your retort. We have just lost a beach through lack of investment in sustainability. It’s not COF fault but it is certainly part of the problem. Fremantle collectively, whether it be the Port Authority, the COF or the State Govt representatives and its ratepayers are accountable for Fremantle’s fortunes and failures.

    As a rate payer for over two decades, I’m tired of not being heard and I don’t think I’m alone.

    John Vodanovic

    • John
      As you know this is going to require a major investment from state and local government and others.

      • Stuart says:

        Which beach? If beachwall options are required, I have a novel, sustainable solution that has been used in marine environs.

      • johnwv says:

        Absolutely spot on Brad. We need to challenge the perception and current process of covering our remnant beaches and dunes with quarried limestone and restricting access with rock walls. The conversation around sand nourishment and retaining sand in the local environment is not being heard. With two Rock wall failures at Port Beach and Sandtracks in the last two months, investing in more rock walls makes no sense at all.

        While swimming at Port Beach on the weekend I was able to stand waist deep on a sandbank created mostly from the former sand dunes and car park now situated 40 metres offshore. A beautiful but expensive sandbank created by nature at the expense of years of rehab planting by volunteers and built infrastructure.

        If only the beach system had been nourished each year with an amount of sand equivalent to the deficit as the Dept of Transport and Infrastructure 2004 report recommended. The view from the sand bank 40 metres offshore may well have been an intact car park and a rehabilitated dune system.

        I agree, it is a bigger conversation.

  3. Stuart says:

    Brad I am concerned by the large number of empty storefronts. This was raised in the article and how can it be addressed?

  4. dalols says:

    Thanks, Brad… all day I have been composing responses in my head to this pathetic, pointless WAToday piece… You got it…!!
    I can’t be bothered with the ignorant on most days, but sometimes they need their inadequacies challenged…

  5. Martin Anda says:

    Great work Brad and well said. Clearly Nathan does not know FreoToday very well!!

  6. Pingback: The $1.3b set to change our port city forever – POLITICSIO

  7. Doug7 says:

    Went to John Curtin in 1958, ran a successful retail business in Fremantle in the mid 90’s and currently live in the area. Apart from the world class development at the Fishing Boat Harbour, Fremantle has little to offer.
    Giving the ‘peoles’ West End to a university was a counter productive descision and a huge missed opportunity to create a historically vibrant city
    It appears successive councils have lacked any real vision

  8. Pingback: Debating development, change and gentrification in Freo | City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt's Blog

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