Fremantle Ports’ intention to call for expressions of interest for the 1,600 square metre B Shed at Victoria Quay has led its current tenant, Fremantle Motor Museum, to consider possible legal action and assess alternative sites to house its vintage cars.
Fremantle Ports’ intention to call for expressions of interest for the 1,600 square metre B Shed at Victoria Quay has led its current tenant, the Fremantle Motor Museum, to consider possible legal action and assess alternative sites to house its vintage cars.
The Fremantle Motor Museum has occupied the site for almost five years and its current lease is due to expire on December 31.
The museum’s owner, Peter Briggs, claims he had verbal commitments from Fremantle Ports that he would receive a long-term lease following an initial three-year lease, which had two one-year options.
“We had an in-principle agreement that, if after three years we liked being there, they would give us a 10-year lease with an option for another 10 years,” Mr Briggs told WA Business News.
“So I have spent $2.5 million setting it up and [incurred] a further $500,000 in losses.”
Mr Briggs said he would not have spent millions upgrading the building if he knew he was only going to be there for the short term.
But Fremantle Ports chief executive officer Kerry Sanderson said it had always been the authority’s intention to call for expressions of interest for the long-term lease of the B Shed.
“The lease was initially advertised only for a short term and this was made very clear to the Fremantle Motor Museum at the time the initial three-year lease was granted in January 2003,” Ms Sanderson said.
“The short-term nature of the lease was acknowledged by the Fremantle Motor Museum in writing.”
The museum has been invited to lodge an expression of interest.
Mr Briggs said he was considering a number of alternatives, which included lodging an expression of interest, negotiating with the state government for an alternative site, and possible legal action against Fremantle Ports seeking compensation.
Mr Briggs claims the authority wants to attract more money in rent and development for the site following ING Real Estate’s plans for a $200 million development at the precinct.
“They see this huge retail development going up and figure they will get someone to pay a lot of money to be next door to it,” Mr Briggs said.
Ms Sanderson said the port believed there was an opportunity to “ensure an optimal outcome” for the B Shed heritage building as part of the revitalisation of the Victoria Quay western end waterfront.
Mr Briggs said he would prefer to come to an arrangement with the ports rather than initiating an expensive legal battle.
Fremantle Ports is expected to finalise the long-term lease by before the end of the year.
The motor museum has been told that, if it is unsuccessful in securing the premises, it will have an additional three months to vacate the premises.
Fremantle Ports said it would be considering visitor numbers as well as the potential to contribute to the overall vision of the Fremantle waterfront masterplan.
Any development of the B Shed would need Heritage Council of Western Australia approval.