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Getting ready to tackle a backpacker boom

industry uncertainty following the collapse of Ansett and the US terrorist attacks.

About $200,000 is being spent by the proprietor, Chris Dodgson, to refurbish the heritage listed 1920s townhouses on the corner of James and Stirling streets into a 65-bed budget backpacker establishment to be named Mad Cat Back-packers.

Mr Dodgson took over the lease in February when Theo’s Musical Instruments relocated to Leederville. Work was held off until finance became available following the sale of Mr Dodgson’s property in the United Kingdom.

Building approval is now being sought from the City of Perth and the backpackers is expected to be ready for business by the end of November, just as the busy season gets under way.

Mr Dodgson commiss-ioned Fremantle architects Hammond & Green to bring the derelict building back to its former glory.

The Botsis family has owned the property for the past 50 years. Phil Botsis, director with Ledge Finance, said he was very excited by the development of the property.

Mr Dodgson said the Perth backpacker industry was very well established compared with many other cities around the world, including in the United States, but there was still room for more growth.

“Perth still hasn’t experienced a full back-packer boom,” he said.

“I think its going to be a more steady rise over the next three years.”

Mr Dodgson said while there were a number of backpacker establishments in Perth that provided more luxurious accommodation, with rates averaging $18-$20 a night, there was still a market for cheaper, no-frill backpackers that provided good, clean and safe accommodation.

“For many people it is a matter of the cheaper the better. We will be making beds available for only $10-$12 a night,” he said.

Properties in the area north of the train station and east of Beaufort Street have been undergoing somewhat of a renaissance during the past year, including the redevelopment of the Supermail building and the opening of the Myer Megamart.

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