24/02/2004 - 21:00

Money makes the difference

24/02/2004 - 21:00

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LOCAL and State governments are the main contributors to the approximately $500 million being invested in the City of Fremantle and surrounds.

Money makes the difference

LOCAL and State governments are the main contributors to the approximately $500 million being invested in the City of Fremantle and surrounds.

The decision by the current State Government and its predecessor to sink funds into the port city, starting with the Maritime Museum, is considered to be a turning point for the port city’s fortunes. 

In a further show of commitment, the Government announced last year that the Fremantle Waterfront Commercial Precinct would go ahead, with its preferred proponent being ING/Lewis Land. 

Under the arrangement, ING/Lewis will lease the three-hectare land parcel from Fremantle Ports and develop the area into a mix of brand outlet stores, cafes, general retail and offices. 

In stage one, about 12,000 square metres of retail and hospitality space will be constructed, plus a minimum of 4,000sq m of office space. Future phases include increasing the office component by a further 20,000sq m, subject to market demand. 

The development is expected to generate 400 full-time jobs in retail, with more than 12,000 people working in the corporate office accommodation. Completion of stage one is expected by mid-2006.

Another noteworthy Government move is the controversial decision to delete the Fremantle Eastern Bypass from the Metropolitan Road Scheme (MRS). 

A swath of underdeveloped land, which has sat under-utilised for more than a decade awaiting a decision on the bypass, will therefore become prime land for residential redevelopment.

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Longley said uncertainty over the FEB had caused stagnation in land values and stifled any further development. Investors had sought other opportunities and the land was not used in a productive fashion, he said.

Mr Longley said the FEB had been a “political yo yo” for far too long.

“We just want a decision made – it either happens or it doesn’t happen,” he said.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the MRS amendment was currently before the Legislative Council and if the support of the Greens was maintained it would be adopted in March this year.

She said alterations to Stock Road were now being considered to improve the road as a truck route.

It was time to get the focus right in Fremantle, the minister told WA Business News.

“One of the challenges has been that it [Fremantle] hasn’t attracted as much big business and corporate opportunities as hoped,” Ms MacTiernan said.

She said that the Fremantle Waterfront Commercial Precinct would be a likely office location for resource, trade and shipping companies, and that the Government was currently talking to a number of trade and shipping companies interested in locating in the Leighton redevelopment.

Mr Longley said that, with sufficient office accommodation, Fremantle would attract businesses that did not need to be in the Perth CBD, particularly in creative industries such as the information technology sector.

“The cities that have a high predominance of creative people are generally successful as places,” he said.

“A measure of a creative place is whether people who could live anywhere choose to live there.”

Mr Longley said the growth of a tourism business monoculture in the city was a concern for the chamber as it had the potential to devalue Fremantle’s worth as a regional centre.

The growth of residential development was also something that needed to be balanced so that it did not affect industry in Fremantle.

“It is terribly important we maintain our industry base,” he said.

“Residential lobby groups can be very powerful. Our chamber will resist any good industrial land being turned into residential.”

In order to lure more business to Fremantle, particularly the west end, the City of Fremantle and Fremantle Chamber of Commerce have launched a business attraction program and an online property database.

To date, the Chelsea Project has been successful in attracting government funding as well as luring more business to an area that was in decline.

The City of Fremantle recently committed $500,000 to a revitalisation program for the west end to be used for streetscape, lighting and artwork initiatives, which are aimed at bringing life back into one of the State’s oldest and best preserved heritage precincts.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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