08/05/2018 - 11:08

New builds spark inner city

08/05/2018 - 11:08

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Hibernian Place is the latest development in a series of initiatives aimed at reactivating Perth’s east end.

New builds spark inner city
The entire Hibernian Place precinct is set to open by mid-May. Photo: Attila Csaszar

A five-year plan to turn the site of the former Perth Fire Station into a hospitality precinct and five-star hotel has culminated in last week’s opening of the 368-room Westin Perth at 480 Hay Street.

The hotel forms the centrepiece of BGC Development’s Hibernian Place.

Designed and landscaped by international firm HASSELL, with interiors by BAR Studio, Hibernian Place is also home to Uber’s Perth headquarters and Bodhi J Wellness Spa, as well as a range of food and beverage operators, with the whole precinct set to open by the middle of this month.

BGC purchased the site in 2013 after responding to an expression of interest led by Tourism WA and managed by LandCorp, with construction starting in 2015.

The Westin Perth. Photo: Joel Barbitta

Hibernian Place was previously valued as a $500 million development, but has since been revised due to a second commercial tower being put on hold, with a new project value remaining undisclosed.

BGC Development general manager Ross Catalano said the business was aware that the right tenancy mix was vital for the precinct’s success.

“We thought long and hard about perpetuating Perth’s agenda for promoting inner-city living and, following extensive research, workshops and third-party advice, devised a place-making strategy catering not only to those residents, but also to the growing numbers of students and workers,” Mr Catalano told Business News.

Eateries and bars include an assortment of both local and east coast operators: celebrity chef Guy Grossi’s Garum restaurant; Arthur & Co Dining; the Offshoot coffee roastery by WA-founded Mary Street Bakery; Melbourne’s Huxtaburger; and rooftop bar Hadiqa, founded by Andy Freeman, the local publican behind the Flour Factory and Varnish on King.

Mr Catalano said that, as the developer of Hibernian Place, BGC also wanted to ensure that the experience for patrons extended beyond the site boundary into the local area and community.

As a result, BGC became a major sponsor of the not-for-profit Historic Heart project.

“The local area had been somewhat forgotten and was in desperate need of some leadership and a collective vision,” Mr Catalano said.

“We consider our investment and role in Historic Heart as a commitment to lead and encourage other like-minded landowners, business operators and residents to improve the local area and promote its unique identity. 

“The Historic Heart initiative will improve the local aesthetic, promote vibrancy and encourage more people to visit, explore and stay in the area.”

Established by prominent property developer Adrian Fini, Historic Heart aims to revitalise the east end of Perth, bordered by Barrack Street and the Perth Mint, through public art and streetscape improvements.

The project’s first stage launched in October last year, with murals and 65 planter boxes painted by local artists installed from Barrack Street to Irwin Street.

Garum Restaurant. Photo: SHOTBYTHOM

Historic Heart project manager Sandy Anghie said more public artwork was on the 2018 agenda, and with Curtin University recently joining as a sponsor, there were plans to activate its two business school buildings on Murray Street.

The development of an app was also under way to help people explore the area, which Ms Anghie said was home to Perth’s greatest collection of heritage buildings.

“Hibernian Place is going to draw a lot more people through the east end and hopefully help stimulate business in the area,” Ms Anghie told Business News.

“When you think of the great cities of the world, whether that’s Paris, London or New York, they’re all defined by their architecture, culture and history … they’re great neighbourhoods.

“Our vision for Historic Heart is to create an identifiable neighbourhood, with a strong sense of place.” 

The completion of Hibernian Place follows Mr Fini’s redevelopment of the State Buildings.

Also taking shape in Perth’s east end is the construction of Atira Student Living, a $70 million, 30-storey student accommodation tower due for completion in 2020, and the refurbishment of the former Kings Hotel on the corner of Hay and Pier Street.

In the pipeline, a proposal by Global Premium Hotels, the hotel development arm of Singapore listed company Fragrance Group, has been put forward for a $100 million, 62-storey hotel and apartment tower at the site of the heritage-listed St Andrew’s Uniting Church, on the corner of Pier Street and St Georges Terrace.

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