15/10/2008 - 22:00

Bringing CBD laneways to life

15/10/2008 - 22:00

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THE push to redevelop laneways in the Perth CBD is gaining momentum, with plans for a series of small bars and cafes being developed by business owners and arts groups.

THE push to redevelop laneways in the Perth CBD is gaining momentum, with plans for a series of small bars and cafes being developed by business owners and arts groups.

Last year's introduction of the small bar licence in Western Australia, and the success of venues such as Alda's in Wolf Lane, has made the concept of laneway redevelopments a lot more viable, as has the City of Perth's commitment to upgrading the physical form of city-owned laneways.

Five laneways have been identified in the city's 'forgotten spaces' document - Prince, Grand, McLean, Wolf and Howard - as high priorities for redevelopment, which will receive investment from the city.

The first of these likely to receive some attention is Howard Lane, which has two small bars in the offing.

Andaluz Tapas Bar will be the first to open, located in the old Parker & Parker building at 21 Howard Street.

A conditional liquor licence has been granted for the bar, with the official opening due later this year.

It will be followed by a second venue, located in the back of the WA Club building, if the owners are successful in getting a licence issued.

Perth-based interior design firm Innerspace Commercial Interiors Pty Ltd, which has been working on a concept for the bar for the past two years, was due to lodge a liquor licence application this week with the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor.

Innerspace director Cristina Fego said the plans included utilising some space in the laneway, and incorporate artists' installations into the design.

Meanwhile, the WA Club building, which was bought last year by Balcatta-based Priolo Corporation Pty Ltd for $8.9 million, is set to undergo a refurbishment of its upstairs offices, with plans for a café fronting St Georges Terrace being developed as well.

The heritage-listed building will retain the WA Club as its main tenant.

Across town, McLean Lane has been chosen as another priority redevelopment site, given the City of Perth owns the Pier Street car park and the old Perth Gasworks building, both of which adjoin the laneway.

Earlier this year, the City of Perth gifted the latter property to arts group Artsource, for use as studio space.

The building is about to undergo a major refurbishment, with the first stage due for completion mid next year, to replace the roof and interior fit-out.

Artsource consultant Louise Morrison said discussions were also under way with several café owners in the city to establish an outlet in the building.

South Perth-based property investment group Access West Developments Ltd, which owns API House at 100-104 Murray Street, is another building owner with plans for the McLean laneway.

The company has lodged its own development application to build two extra floors of office space and redevelop the ground floor retail area of the six-storey building.

AWD Group executive director Paul McKenzie said he was supportive of the laneway redevelopment, although it would depend on a commitment from council as well as landowners.

"We're very supportive of the concept the council has. If it has the intention of drawing people to this end of town, it's a good thing, particularly with the residential towers being built around here. There'll be a lot more people living in the area," Mr McKenzie said.

"We see it as adding value, because the laneway is underutilised currently.

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