16/05/2006 - 22:00

Fresh look for Freo’s east end

16/05/2006 - 22:00

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The City of Fremantle plans to transform the port city by redeveloping the tired east end and revitalising Kings Square and the adjacent Myer building in a move it’s hoped will create an exciting retail mix to rival Garden City.

The City of Fremantle plans to transform the port city by redeveloping the tired east end and revitalising Kings Square and the adjacent Myer building in a move it’s hoped will create an exciting retail mix to rival Garden City.

Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri confirmed the council’s plan to develop a “landmark” mix-use commercial/retail building on the large block bordered by Cantonment, Point and Adelaide streets once the council’s purchase of the Westgate mall strip, fronting Adelaide Street, was finalised.

“In what will be a first for WA, the council is hoping to retain control of the site and develop it ourselves within the parameters of community expectations,” Mr Tagliaferri said.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in new retail space as vacancy rates are very low, particularly along High Street. Five years ago, retail vacancies were at 40 per cent, whereas now there is little left and much competition.”

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Longley said it was difficult to find space along High Street, with the low vacancy rates a reflection of the decline in the amount of retail space in Fremantle during the past 15 years.

Mr Longley said Fremantle retail had also become a “mono culture” for fashion, with 40 to 50 fashion stores dominating the town centre while traditional retailers such as green grocers had been pushed out.

“Fremantle’s retail sector needs to have greater variety to draw people across from the city,” he said.

To meet the growing need for retail variety and to increase pedestrian traffic, the council is currently considering redevelopment applications for the Point Street carpark and Port Cinema sites on the northern side of Point Street.

The development site is opposite the proposed landmark building and Westgate mall in the east-end and is expected to encompass significant ground-floor retail space, office/ commercial uses above, as well as a cinema and residential component.

At least 269 car bays will be developed to replace the existing car park and clear pedestrian links will be established between the car park and the proposed mall opposite Point Street.

While the council looks to future projects, projects already under way in the east end include a Woolworths supermarket and specialty retail space on the former Ross’s Hardware site, owned by Saracen Properties, and a $1 million upgrade of the Princess May and Film and Television Institute buildings.

Saracen Properties managing director Luke Saraceni said Fremantle had suffered in competition with the regional shopping centres because of a lack of investment in the area and the consequent shortfall in facilities.

Besides the Woolworths site, Mr Saraceni hopes to develop the four-storey Myer Building adjacent to Kings Square and wants to have negotiations with the new owners of Myer.

“We would like to develop the whole precinct with a core retail/office component and possibly some residential. It could be Freo’s version of Bondi Junction, an interactive, mixed-use site that could activate all the shop fronts onto the Square,” Mr Saraceni said.

“At the moment, Myer looks like a 1970s version of a shoebox; how can we compete with Garden City?”

Together with the council, Saracen Properties hopes to redevelop the Queensgate car park and is awaiting a council study into revitalising Kings Square, making it an active plaza and the heart of a growing town.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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