The state government has put out the call for developers for the former chem labs site in East Perth, but the successful proponent will need to incorporate the heritage-listed laboratory buildings in any proposal.
Planning Minister John Day said the 5,335 square metre site, on the corner of Hay and Plain streets, had the potential for a mixed-use residential, retail and commercial project up to 16 storeys.
But Mr Day said the existing brown brick building on site would have to be incorporated into the redevelopment, with it ideally being converted into a supermarket.
The chem labs building has not been in use for about eight years after the facility, which undertakes scientific analysis for the government encompassing environmental protection, illicit drugs, as well as the racing industry, was relocated to Curtin University.
“Quite a few people would be surprised that that part of the building is heritage listed, but it does have its own place and role in the architectural history of Perth, representing a 1960s building and the other particular architectural features of it,” Mr Day told reporters this morning.
“I want the heritage council to explain their position a bit more fully than what I’m informed at the moment, but we do accept that some of these buildings, even from the 1960s are worthy of being kept and incorporated in a new development.
“We think it can be quite easily incorporated because it does not take up a great deal of the site and you could fit a supermarket in there relatively easily.”
Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority acting chief executive Sean Henriques said the heritage listing would not pose any particular extra challenges to the site, or add to the potential cost of the redevelopment.
“In general, the redevelopment authority has a good track record in dealing with heritage assets and heritage buildings, in particular for that one we don’t believe it has a significant impact,” he said.
“What we do to address that is make sure that the planning framework enables the heritage to remain to enable the development but also allow the developer to come in and actually wrap a mixed use development around it."
An artist's impression of a potential development at the chem labs site. (Photo: MRA)
Mr Henriques said the MRA had also flagged the development of a high street with cafes and other retail amenities on De Vlamingh Avenue, which is at the rear of the property off Hay Street.
The site is the third major state government-owned block to be released to market at Riverside, which is home to Frasers Properties Australia’s $450 million Queens Riverside development, as well as Lend Lease’s $1 billion Waterbank project.
Mr Day said he expected the project to provide a positive return from the sale of the land to a developer, which will be facilitated through an expressions of interest campaign to close in July.
“This particular project I’m sure will provide a positive return to the state, but more importantly we are going to get the provision of higher density but also higher quality housing development in this part of Perth,” he said.
"What the development in this precinct will do is provide opportunities for people who do work in the CBD to actually live close to the CBD.
"We’ve already seen quite a bit of apartment development in East Perth, but also it will provide some commercial facilities, but more importantly it adds to the critical mass of the CBD as a whole."
Frasers has completed one of four proposed towers at Queens Riverside, the Frasers Suites hotel, while the 26-storey, 265-apartment QIII residential tower is nearing completion, being built by Diploma Construction.
The third building, the 107-dwelling QII apartment project, is being built by Jaxon Construction and is scheduled to be complete in July next year.
Lend Lease will start major works on its Waterbank project, which comprises up to 1,000 new apartments as well as a public beach and jetty area, early next year.
To date, Lend Lease’s activity in the area has largely been site preparation works.
Lend Lease project director Tim Urquhart said the company recently sought community input regarding what residents and vistors would like to see in the Waterbank precinct.
"Enhancing the area's association with the Swan River was an important theme that came out of the workshops - people want a more tangible connection with the water," Mr Urquhart said.
"Lend Lease will work with these results to guide the design of Waterbank's public open spaces, to ensure they reflect the needs and wants of the people of Perth."
Also near the Riverside redevelopment area, international hotelier Accor Hotels announced yesterday it was constructing a new-build Ibis Styles hotel in close proximity to the chem labs development site.
“The Riverside project is one of three or four transformative projects that are being undertaken by the state government through the MRA, and it is true that Elizabeth Quay and the Perth City Link have achieved a much higher profile, and I don’t think that most people do appreciate that this is also an important part of the redevelopment of the CBD,’’ Mr Day said.
“I think as people see more development over the next two to three years they will understand this area is an important part of the overall plan.”