Coles Woolstores Redevelopment Heading in the Right Direction

Last night the City of Fremantle Planning Committee considered what is probably one of the most important development applications in Fremantle in several decades.

The redevelopment of the Coles Woolstores with new retail, office, student accommodation, hotel, retirement living and public car parking uses has the potential to be transformative for what, most will agree, is a rather tired part of the Fremantle CBD.

City of Fremantle planning staff recommended that the overall form of the proposed development is capable of satisfying the development requirements of exceptional design quality subject to a range of design modifications being incorporated into revised development application plans.

In other words, we were not asked to provide a final approval last night but to advise on whether we thought this development was progressing in the right direction.

Not unexpectedly there was some opposition to this development and not unexpectedly this was largely around height. Parts of the development are tall at around 10 floors.

Respected architect and urban planner Ken Adams made a submission that made some worthwhile points but his key argument that: “The appropriate benchmark for the height of the development is the level set by the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, and that level should best be maintained consistently over the whole site. No protrusions above this level, other than minor necessary protrusions, should be accepted” is one that was not relevant to the decision before us. The allowed heights for the site were well debated and clearly defined via the Amendment 49 process several years ago.

City of Fremantle’s Planning Scheme 4 allows for heights well above 21 metres he advocates on portions of this site and allows for an extra floors if the quality of the development is deemed to be of exceptional design quality.

While the development proposal has not met this threshold yet we were advised by the expert Design Advisory Committee Chair Geoffrey London that it was heading in the right direction and with further modifications could be approvable.

Changes we have asked for include:

  • east and west facades of the proposed Hotel addition being developed with the primary use of Corten (or an alternative material with similar appearance) with the inclusion of port hole openings, that have depth to their design and are constructed within the building façade for windows to the hotel room and corridors on each floor.
  • the submission of further details of the proposed fins, including specific details of the proposed cladding material to demonstrate how the proposed curve and roof and soffit wrap can be achieved.
  • modifications relating to ground floor level of the Hotel building to Queen Street including the south facing ground floor elevation of the proposed Hotel building and entrance at the intersection of Queen Street and Elder Place being redesigned to present as a highly activated and attractive street frontage.

So the final design won’t be exactly as pictured but it will but will improve on this and then come back to Fremantle Council and the DAP for final approval.

Burt Street Project EOI Released

The Housing Authority, which forms part of the Department of Communities, is seeking to collaborate with a private sector developer or consortium who embraces our Vision for the Burt Street Project, to create a new affordable community that enriches the unique character of Fremantle.

Reference #EOI HOU1450717
Closing Date and Time – 2:30pm WST Friday 16 February 2018


A Challenge for Fremantle – Building Apartments for Families

When Council made the decision to encourage higher density residential development in central Freo we were careful to make sure that a good proportion of this new apartment housing was affordable and diverse. At the time we were concerned that  without specific controls we would only get larger luxury apartments that would not be affordable to people on average incomes.

As a result we mandated in Scheme Amendments 38 and 49 diverse apartments sizes and a minimum percentage a small apartments of 60m2 or less so that there would be lots of affordable options. This has been successful in generating smaller, more affordable apartments in Freo.

But where we have not been successful is in creating affordable apartments for families. Freo is not alone in this challenge as the article Developers Failing to Build Apartments for Australian Families outlines. This is a good challenge to set ourselves and I hope Freo can demonstrate how this is done – as we have for housing for artists and GenY.

Here is the article that is worth a read:

Families and children are being excluded from apartment-living, or are having to suffer in grossly unsuitable units, because developers have failed to take notice of their needs, a leading international architect has claimed.

Across the world, developers continue to design, and build, apartments with Millennials, singles, childless couples, or empty-nesters in mind, completely ignoring a huge swathe of the population.

“There’s a whole market out there, keen to move into areas of greater density to take advantage of all the opportunities they offer,” David Pontarini, principal of Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini Architects, told the annual international Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) being held in Australia.

“Developers are ignoring families with kids as they somehow feel they should be planning for other demographics instead. But just as low-rise housing has been masterplanned with kids in mind, to include schools, community centres, child care facilities and parks, we now need to make sure we’re also building family and child-friendly vertical villages.”

In Canada and the US, the property industry is now starting to take notice of the particular needs of kids in high rises. Having found that many families were resorting to storing their strollers in the bath or outside their unit’s front door as they didn’t have space inside, they’re now creating family-friendly apartments.

These are often much larger two and three-bedroom units with lots of storage as well as common areas specifically for strollers, children’s bikes, roller skates and wheeled toys. One popular New York block is now offering a service that’s proved a huge hit with parents: valet-parking for strollers.

Pontarini has designed a multitude of award-winning mixed-use and urban high rise projects before working on the ground-breaking report for the City of Toronto, Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities, providing, and promoting, guidelines for the industry on how to create child-friendly density.

Kitchen and dining areas, for instance, should be large enough for families to comfortably cook, eat and socialise together.

Manning Buildings facelift out for public comment

You’ve until the end of the month to have your say on the planned refurbishment of the Manning Buildings in the city centre.

The heritage buildings – bounded by Market Street, High Street Mall and William Street – were built between 1902 and 1906.

The development proposal includes the restoration of original shopfronts and facades along High Street and Market Street, internal alterations and conservation works to the upper floor offices and ground floor shops.

The plans also include the partial demolition of some existing buildings at the rear of site, with the addition of two-storey offices off Paddy Troy Mall and a new building for a brewhouse, bar and restaurant at rear of existing buildings on William Street, including an undercroft carpark with 25 car bays.

A community information session will be held in the Reception Room on the first floor of the council offices at 8 William Street on Thursday 16 November from 5.30-6.00pm.

More information can be found on the My Say Freo website or by calling the City of Fremantle on 9432 9999.

ABC News: Subiaco and Fremantle: The two Perth ‘phoenix’ suburbs set to become vibrant again

The recent exit of football from Subiaco after the iconic oval’s closure has dealt the area a harsh blow. Across town, the number of empty shops in Fremantle’s city centre continues to grow.

The two communities have been struggling to draw consistent crowds for some time. But Curtin University urban planning expert Dr Shane Greive believes that “like a phoenix rising from the ashes”, Subiaco and Fremantle are on the way back up.

“We have an interesting concept in the academic world: creative destruction,” Dr Greive said. “The idea that something has to die first before you get the new birth coming out of it.”

“So yes, things are dying, but also I think that’s just the ground for things to grow again.

“Maybe we’re looking at Subiaco and Fremantle in winter and maybe we’ve got to think about that Subiaco and Fremantle in spring emerging.”

Death by gentrification

Dr Greive said while Fremantle had maintained a strong community vibe, Subiaco had in some ways lost its identity and both suburbs had been suffering from what he called “late-stage gentrification”.

Subiaco Fremantle talent composite

“Gentrification is actually a good thing in the first stages, it’s basically new money and new people coming into the neighbourhood — fantastic,” he said.

“It gets about halfway and you’ve got an older crowd, a younger crowd and a mixed-income crowd — also fantastic.

“Then what happens after that, the investors start to move in, the oligarchs start to move in and you end up losing people, values go up and they outprice themselves from the market and it takes them 10 or 15 years to figure out what went wrong.”

Penny Taylor recently won a six-way race for Mayor of Subiaco, replacing outgoing mayor of 12 years, Heather Henderson. She said she had a plan to avoid making the same mistakes.

“In my doorknocking and campaigning I was given permission to not just listen to the people with the loudest voices,” she said.

“The info that I got from that is valid for more than a week, that’s valid for some time, and I think I will continue listening.”

Ms Taylor said reducing red tape was a priority and that a recent change to alfresco licensing laws was a move in the right direction.

“If it takes you six months to get open that’s not great,” she said.

“But if you can open as quickly and efficiently as possible in a way that meets the requirements — that are there for important reasons — and also meets the owner’s dreams and vision for their own business, then that’s a way that the administration can be part of making Subiaco vibrant.”

Locals and tourists enjoy the sunshine as they dine along the 'capuccino strip' in Fremantle

Freo’s weekday problem

Brad Pettitt was recently re-elected Mayor of Fremantle for his third term and admitted the city centre in the port town had been struggling.

“It would be fair to say, over the last decade or so, the heart of Fremantle hasn’t really worked as a seven-day-week economy,” he said.

“It’s got this great vibrancy on the weekends, but Monday to Thursday it’s quiet.

“It needs more people living in it, more people working in proper jobs during the week and of course more tourists and more visitors.”

While retail has not flourished in Fremantle for some time, a $270 million redevelopment of the city centre will add 6,000 square metres of retail space.

The Kings Square project by the City of Fremantle and Sirona Capital will also include a new civic chamber, library and council office spaces for more than 1,500 public servants.

A building covered in scaffolding with palm trees in front of it.

Mr Pettitt said the retail space would be unlike any other.

“The reason I think retail will work in Kings Square is not only do you have 2,000 new workers in the precinct, but it’s also not going to be your traditional retail in some ways,” he said.

“There’s going to be lots of food and beverage, there’s going to be lots of destination retail, where people will want to come.

“It’s about actually thinking where is retail going, especially in this emerging post-Amazon kind of world of online shopping — it’s about creating spaces and places that people want to come to and have a real sense of connection with.”

The Kings Square project is expected the be finished in late 2019.

Fremantle to keep Carnival Australia cruise ships

Great news on the return of Carnival to Fremantle. this will be good for jobs in Freo and beyond.

Leading cruise company Carnival Australia has announced Fremantle will be used as a home port for Princess Cruises after an earlier threat to pull out.

The WA Government’s commitment to fix infrastructure issues helped seal the deal, which will see the redeployment of Sun Princess, with 2,000 guests.

Speaking on sister ship Sea Princess, Premier Mark McGowan said he became aware of the problems after being elected.

“They’d been making submissions to the former government for a considerable period and there’d been no action,” he said.

“It turned out one of the major issues was the dredging of the channel into Broome Port.

“The other was pulling up in Geraldton, there was a problem with what’s called the shore tensioning units.”

The Premier said shore tension units had been installed and dredging would occur at Broome next year to allow all-tide access.

Loss of ships ‘would have cost $135m’

Stuart Allison, Princess Cruises’ vice president for Australia and New Zealand, said the topic of better access to ports was an issue around Australia.

Mr Allison said the five Sun Princess cruises in October and November next year could be the start of bigger things.

“Ultimately our long-term ambition is to bring even larger ships to Western Australia,” he said.

“Be it the 3,000-guest Ruby Princess, which will be based in Australia from later 2019. Or even the flagship of the Princess fleet, the Majestic Princess — 3,500 guests — which will be based in Sydney from September of next year.

“But we can only start to make those decisions about bringing those ships to Western Australia and to Broome when we know that those tidal issues are no longer a concern to us.”

WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the knock-on effect would have been devastating if Fremantle had lost homeporting of Carnival Australia-managed ships.

“The impact of that would’ve been in a couple of year’s time a reduction of regional port visits by two thirds, and a loss of $135 million of spend,” he said.

“What we’re talking about today is huge for Fremantle and for the regions. By way of example, this ship has 2,000 passengers, 30 per cent of those passengers have come from interstate, and 12 per cent have come from overseas.”

Mr Papalia said he was confident environmental approvals would be given for the dredging at Broome, and said the operation itself would only take a couple of days.

Regional Development Minister Rita Saffioti said the Government also expected to make an announcement about plans for Fremantle’s South Quay and Passenger Terminal before Christmas.

Freo tourist numbers set to double with Kings Square FOMO festival precinct

This is a BIG retail announcement for Freo. Fear Of Missing Out indeed!

Freo tourist numbers set to double with Kings Square FOMO festival precinct

The FOMO space will incorporate the redevelopment of the former Myer and Queensgate buildings and carpark.
The FOMO space will incorporate the redevelopment of the former Myer and Queensgate buildings and carpark.Picture: Supplied

Kings Square Fremantle will play host to a semi-permanent festival under a radical but carefully curated multimillion-dollar plan for a borderless retail, community and entertainment precinct.

FOMO, as the precinct has been christened, will reverse the effect of decades of neglect to allow Fremantle to reclaim its status as a thriving tourist destination, according to Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly, the developer of the $270 million office, retail, church and civic precinct.

“We threw out the retail rule book,” Mr McNeilly said.

“We saw a once-in-a-generation opportunity to harness the unique personality of Fremantle to create a retail environment where the journey will be as important as the destination.”

The flavour of FOMO, the 5783sqm retail space at the heart of Kings Square, will be devised in a series of workshops with the community, artists and musicians of Fremantle, highlighting and intensifying the best of Fremantle’s makers and artisans.

The Daily will be part of an art, architecture, culture and retail hub “unique to Fremantle”.
The Daily will be part of an art, architecture, culture and retail hub “unique to Fremantle”.Picture: Supplied

Its precincts include Street Alley, Tidal Land and Newman Court — a food space with slow food, good food, fast and fresh food which then morphs into spaces selling homewares, fashion and homemade goods.

Radical retail architect, HDR Rice Daubney principal Susanne Pini, said the double-storey Emporium (the former Myer building) would echo a “cool container” with an eclectic mix of organic and free flowing retail concepts.

For example, an area called The Daily, will offer local makers workspace, gallery, retail space around the base of the old carpark area and a window for passing pedestrians into how artisans bring their ideas to life.

City of Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said FOMO will be an art, architecture, culture and retail hub “unique to Fremantle”.

The project, to include two office campuses with 20,400sqm of A-grade office space, a revamped 800 bay carpark and outdoor retail, entertainment and eating spaces and a new $50 million civic precinct for the City of Fremantle, was “a unique opportunity to take a retail risk”, Mr McNeilly, said.

The office complex will house more than 1500 workers and Mr McNeilly said that in curating and intensifying the appealing elements of Fremantle, FOMO would almost double the number of tourists visiting Fremantle from 1.6 million to 3 million a year.