IF anyone is qualified to comment on the changes in Subiaco in recent decades it has to be Tony Costa.
Mayor of the City of Subiaco for the past decade, Mr Costa has been a resident of Subiaco since 1956, with 20 of those years spent in local government.
And he has seen the area evolve from a predominantly blue-collar suburb with a strong migrant mix into the up-market, trendy location it has become today.
Mr Costa says he is in two minds about Subiaco’s new status as a sought after business address.
While additional rates are always welcomed into local government coffers, Mr Costa said he would happily exchange increased rates for a Subi Centro precinct that was developed at a reduced scale.
“I don’t like the over-crowding of the train station, I would never have allowed the conglomeration of buildings around the railway,” he said.
Describing the development of the precinct as overkill, Mr Costa said the current level of commercial development was more than enough.
“I am emphatic about balance. The success of Subiaco has always been the mix; the last thing we want to happen is for Subiaco to become sterile,” he said.
“We don’t want to go as far as West Perth – it’s tombstone territory on the weekend, there is too much commercial, you only have to look at the break and enter occurring in the offices.
“You have got to be honest to say enough is enough.”
Mr Costa said he under-stood that dominant market forces could not be stopped, but believed excessive development needed to be reigned in.
“In my view residents are first. Business, although it brings a dollar in, needs to learn the value of caring and sharing,” he said.
An orphan who was schooled at Bindoon Boys Town and employed by the railway for much of his life, Mr Costa draws on a strong socialist background. And as far as he is concerned, the Subi Centro development has missed an opportunity to put in social housing.
While the State Government and City of Subiaco have entered into a social housing joint venture, Mr Costa said his requests for social housing in Subi Centro precinct were ignored for many years under conservative governments.
He holds the issue close to his heart and believes that “we are forgetting the battlers” in the push to get as much value from the land as possible.
Despite the debate about Subi Centro, there is little Mr Costa can do about the look or composition of the precinct while it is under the planning powers of Subiaco Redevelopment Authority.
A new battle has emerged over the former Subiaco tavern site, located on the grass outside the Subiaco rail station.
Under the Subiaco Redevelopment Authority guidelines the site is to be developed, however Mr Costa believes it should remain as a public square.
The City of Subiaco is planning to enter into discussion with SRA and site owners about options available to retain some of the public space on the site.
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