New 21st century Fremantle Council building gets heritage tick of approval

The City of Fremantle’s soon-to-be-built $50m administration and library building will enhance the important heritage aspects of Fremantle’s Kings Square according to a recently received heritage impact statement.

The independent report by Griffiths Architects has shown the new building has a ‘favourable effect on heritage’ by providing strong interactions between the historic Fremantle Town Hall and the civic and community functions of the new building.

The report advises the new building will help return the town hall to prominence by reintegrating the town hall back into the centre of civic life:

The overall presentation of the town hall, civic functions and administration will be visually enhanced by a more integrated 21st century building that relates well to the town hall, Kings Square and William Street and Newman Court.

The changes will reintegrate the town hall back into day-to-day city life, provide proper connections to services and lift areas and ensure that contemporary requirements that can be so damaging to historic buildings are located in the new building.

The Freo Council has taken a long-term approach in determining the design for the new building. It must be able to stand the test of time to last 100 years or more to become Fremantle’s future heritage. This report is further proof this will be the case.

We carefully weighed up all the information available and decided a full redevelopment rather than a refurbishment of the existing building will best meet the long-term needs of the Fremantle community.

A complete redevelopment will look better, function better, cost less to maintain and operate and will mitigate the need for costly extensions and technology upgrades in the future. As well as the positive heritage implications, the new buildings will deliver better facilities and customer service experience.

The report was critical of the current 50+ year old building saying it had failed to make a positive contribution to the urban setting of Kings Square, was intrusive, dislocated the town hall from its administrative functions and was past its useful life.

While serving its purpose for more than fifty years, the current building is highly inefficient from an environmental and operating cost perspective; suffers from concrete cancer, has significant asbestos contamination issues and does not meet legal disability access requirements.

What we didn’t want was to build something which, like the current civic and administration building, needs replacing in 50 years’ time. Council made a conscious decision to ‘build it once and build it properly’ in determining the design of the new building.

The final detailed design phase for the new building is currently being completed with demolition of the current building and construction of the new building to begin in early 2018.

View a copy of the Kings Square Development Heritage Impact statement.

Tree Houses and High Wire Ropes – Hilton Primary Designs Kings Square

Our final student led design charettes for the new Kings Square Play Space was with the kids at Hilton Primary School today. By the looks of things, we’ll be putting up lots of tree houses and ordering trampolines and high wire ropes!

This is community engagement at its best. Well done to all involved.

Kings Square Update – Local Businesses and Car Parks

I thought it was time for an update on the Kings Square project as there has been a fair bit happening behind the scenes.

As you might have read the builder (Probuild)  for King Square has been appointed  and the project is rapidly getting underway.

Last week representatives from Sirona and City of Fremantle  staff and I went and knocked on the door of the traders around Kings Square (I think we spoke to 41 businesses over the day and we still have a few more to do!) to explain to them the project and timelines for the project.

So what are the timelines for the $270 million dollar project? Roughly speaking fences will likely go up late July or early August with demolition to start soon after on former-Myer and Queensgate. Demolition of the Council  offices and library  will be later in the year with all planned to be completed by mid -2019 .

Perhaps the two key questions that businesses asked of us were: Will the multi-story Queensgate car park stay open and will the surrounding streets stay open.

The short answer to each of these questions is YES. The streets will stay open – unless they are bringing a crane or the like. The car park which will also stay open although there may be minor closures on occasions as it is getting a much needed multi-million make over.

On the car park, the City is currently transferring ownership of the Queensgate car park to Sirona Capital. The car park will now be managed by Secure Parking.  The existing car park conditions will change in coming weeks. Notice of any changes to these conditions will be provided publicly by Secure Parking in advance of these changes taking effect. Visit or call 1300 727 483.

The overwhelming feedback from business owners was that they can’t wait for it to get started and more importantly finish and bring 2100 new jobs to the centre of Fremantle.

If you want to keep on top of what is happening you can subscribe to the e-newsletter via the dedicated Kings Square website

Fremantle’s 130 year old Town Hall new lease of life on 9 News

Kings Square Freo attracts eager bids

Two articles in last 24 hours providing a timely update on Kings Square. First in WA Business News

Another article in the West Australian’s Property Section today on progress on the Kings Square Project. It is not online yet but will post link when it is.

Kings Square Freo attracts eager bids by Helen Shield 17.5.17

The developer of the $270 million Kings Square Fremantle revitalisation project, Sirona Capital, has appointed CBRE to advise on unsolicited bids from Australian and offshore institutional investors. And yesterday Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly said the developer had appointed top-tier builder Probuild for an August construction start and was focused on delivering, not just for the State Government but for the City of Fremantle.

“We have been approached by a number of Australian and global investors who have expressed an interest,” he told The West Australian. “That’s not surprising given the institutional nature of the assets and the 15-year government lease that’s underpinning the development. So rather than deal with that, we have appointed CBRE to advise on the long-term ownership and funding options.” Mr McNeilly said a sale was not a foregone conclusion and Sirona was committed to delivering the project by mid-2019.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt has said a recent wave of new development, including the Kings Square overhaul — a central plank of the City of Fremantle’s revival — would deliver the City an estimated $5 million a year in future recurring rate revenue. Mr Pettitt said before the Kings Square development there were fears the city was on an unsustainable economic trajectory. However, the council’s financial modelling had shown its contribution — $50 million for a new library, civic and administration building — would be repaid within 10 years.

Mr McNeilly has previously described the Kings Square project as a catalyst for returning Fremantle to a seven-day-a week economy. “It’s an opportunity to transform the rundown CBD area of Fremantle,” he said this week. “In reality this is all about tourism, arts, culture which already exist in Fremantle.”

The WA Government will lease 17,200sqm of the 20,000sqm of office, moving workers from the Housing Authority and departments of Corrective Services and Transport to Fremantle in 2020. The 25,800sqm project includes redeveloping the former Myer building and a new building. Offices will be above a retail and entertainment precinct, including a cinema, and the 800-bay Queensgate carpark will get an overhaul.

Mr Pettitt said committing to the Kings Square project in 2013 had renewed investor confidence and been a big contributor to the “$1.3 billion development boom we now see in Fremantle”. When asked whether the project had one of the longest gestation periods in recent living memory, Mr McNeilly said he liked to recall the Treasury Buildings, a project WA developer Adrian Fini started work on 20 years ago. “Hopefully we are at the beginning of a very long upcycle,” he said.

Probuild WA managing director Sam Delmenico said the company was delighted to work with Sirona to get value driven outcomes in the crucial planning phase.

Fremantle city centre redevelopment to underpin Freo’s economic future

I appreciate that City of Fremantle budgets and finances aren’t the sexiest topic around and the principles of draft ten year financial strategy (2017-2027) accepted by Audit and Risk Management Committee this week is not going to be page-turning reading for everyone. But it actually worth a read.

The strategy makes confirms City of Fremantle finances  are in a strong position going forward.

The plan shows that the City of Fremantle over the next ten years has the ability to complete the Kings Square project, deliver balanced annual budgets, restore reserves to current levels, and to pay off all debt within 10 years of the redevelopment.

Importantly it demonstrates that ALL of above can be delivered with just CPI rate increases!

Not a bad outcome at all I reckon.


This good outcomes is because the recent wave of new investment and developments in Fremantle is set to steadily climb and deliver an estimated extra $5m annually to City’s commercial rates revenue by 2022

The draft plan included the City’s largest capital works program in its history to deliver a renewed city centre and strengthen the City’s long-term financial position. The redevelopment of Kings Square is a major long-term investment in the economic future of Fremantle.

This year the most important Fremantle capital works program in a generation will commence, delivering 2,000 new workers to Freo and injecting more than $350m into the local economy.

Before this investment in the Fremantle city centre there was a serious fear Fremantle was on an unsustainable economic trajectory. The City committing to the catalyst Kings Square project in 2013 has renewed investor confidence and has been a major contributor to the $1.3b development boom we now see in Freo.

We’ll be prioritising the Kings Square development over the next two financial years and adjusting budgets accordingly, but importantly our long-term plan demonstrates the ability to deliver this project based on CPI-based rate increases

The draft plan will be presented to full council on 24 May.

Freo Town Hall’s New Look

You might have noticed the scaffolding coming down on the North side of the Fremantle Town Hall unveiling the renovated and de-painted building. I think it looks pretty special.

De-painting (not the technical term) might sound like an odd thing to do but interestingly the town hall was unpainted for most of its life from 1887 to 1965. And for good reason. The layers of paint were removed to both respect the original design intention to make the town hall look like a high-quality, finely detailed stone building as well as allow the walls of the building to breathe and absorb and expel moisture naturally as originally intended.

The $3.1 million exterior renovation project included restoring the external envelope of the building to conserve the existing heritage fabric and protect the interior from further deterioration;  the replacement of roof cladding, painting external timber and metalwork etc; increasing  the capacity of the historically undersized roof drainage system by enlarging gutters, downpipes and stormwater pipes and providing overflow points for extreme weather events and reinstating some decorative items in normally inaccessible areas. For example, cast iron finials to turrets, flag pole etc.

If you get to stop by the slow unveiling is worth a look.