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Chorus of approval grows for west end development

THE west end of Murray Street is attracting interest from residential and retail developers, largely due to a significant increase in foot traffic.

There have been substantial changes to the area in recent times. Carlton United Breweries’ purchase of the City Hotel, the recent sale of apartments to be built on the current Zone 3 site, the repositioning of the Spirit Sound Bar and the recently opened international entertainment venue Carnegies have created an attractive development locale.

Owners and developers of businesses along the west end of Murray Street agree that the Woodside building, QV1, Shafto Lane and King Street, combined with the development of the Perth Convention and Entertainment Centre and possible redevelopments of the Entertainment Centre are contributing to an increase in foot traffic and interest in the area.

Assett Special Projects has gained approval for the development of current Zone 3 site. The complex, known as The Pulse, has been designed by Vision Architects to attract lovers of the Hay Street Box Apartments, according to director Tim Welling.

“We are filling a niche that the Box has captured but at a price point that is more affordable,” Mr Welling said. “We’ve sold 13 of the 26 apartments and are in talks to negotiate the restaurant on the ground floor.”

The site was purchased by a consortium of Perth businessmen for just over $1 million and development will commence after the expiration of Zone 3’s lease in October.

A site for sale, which could be developed in a similar way, is the Synergy site at 378 Murray Street.

Lyrical Holdings Pty Ltd is asking approximately $10 million for the 5120 square metre site, which is zoned for shopping.

Managing director of site manager DTZ Australia, Brad Carey, said the existing development approval catered for either a 19-level residential tower including 52 apartments, a 14 level hotel tower with 168 rooms, offices, retail space, restaurants and bars, gymnasium, plus a 166-bay undercover carpark.

But it’s not just residential interest that’s pushing the developments on Murray Street.

CB Richard Ellis leases and manages Shafto Lane and associate director of residential leasing, Fred Clohessy, said the company made a firm decision to incorporate quality food outlets into the area.

“We made a conscious decision to get good food retailers in. Cafe Bocca has been the real catalyst,” he said.

“We were also responsible for placing the owners in the Zin and Zen site.”

Mr Clohessy said the company also thought King Street would begin to flourish after a downturn in high-end fashion.

“King Street needs more fashion to go in there. It needs the right cafe operators and it needs to provide a point of difference,” he said.

Carnegies director Karl Buller said the Murray Street site was chosen because of its proximity to the CBD.

“We have three Carnegies overseas and our choice in site has always been a couple of minutes’ walking distance from the CBD or offices. You are guaranteed a reasonable trade,” he said.

While there had been some opposition to Carnegies’ presence, particularly from former City Hotel owner and Perth councillor Judy McEvoy, Mr Buller believes the site will benefit other businesses in Murray Street.

“We spent $2 million and I believe we add value to the City Hotel. People like more choice in drinking venues. We need more quality venues to get more of a night life,” Mr Buller said.

Also looking to gain more midweek night trade is The Spirit Sound Bar.

Under new management (though Entertainment Enterprises remains the owner) the new team of Hugh Brown and Tania Hardie are looking to attract the corporate lunch market and increase the night trade.

“There is so much foot traffic now that we need to expand and take the perception away that we’re just a nightclub,” Mr Brown said.

“We’ve got a chef from LinQ in to set up the menu. We’ve got plans for fashion shows and a band during the night.”

He said by increasing the day trade, Spirit Sound Bar would be better placed to capture the night market.

“We want to get the day trading up and then look at putting on wine and pasta nights, bar snacks and pizza,” Mr Brown said.

Property agents agree that the west end strip is undervalued but expect prices to rise as vacant spots dry up.

“Hay Street pedestrian traffic is busier but with Carnegies and CUB it’s all going to help,” Mr Clohessy said.

“Murray Street is still, as far as rental is, slightly cheaper. But it is tightening up.”

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