20/07/2015 - 11:14

Precincts add value, vibrancy in the city

20/07/2015 - 11:14

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Developers’ precinct plans have been the driving force behind a revitalised Perth.

Precincts add value, vibrancy in the city
UPLIFT: Place Match’s Lisa Montgomery says developers are seeing real value in precinct planning. Photo: Philip Gostelow

Developers’ precinct plans have been the driving force behind a revitalised Perth.

It has been a long time since anyone has been game enough to describe Perth as ‘dullsville’.

The CBD has become a much more cosmopolitan hub over the past five years, with a thriving small bar and coffee scene complemented by world-class restaurants and casual eateries.

But it’s been much more than just a foodie revolution; Perth’s change has come off the back of a record wave of commercial development.

And those commercial developments have resulted in the creation of a range of new precincts in the city, each with its own identity.

The biggest, and most transformative, of these precincts is Brookfield Place, where Brookfield Property Partners created arguably Perth’s finest restaurant and bar precinct in the heritage buildings at the foot of its 45-storey office tower.

Brookfield Place also has a thriving arts calendar, the latest being its Winter Lights program, which adds a bit of colour to the cooler months along St Georges Terrace.

Place Match director Lisa Montgomery, who helped Brookfield Property Partners realise its vision for the precinct, said Brookfield Place had set a standard for Perth developers.

Ms Montgomery said developers were now taking a holistic approach to projects rather than simply trying to maximise office yields of development sites.

“In many cases the office tower is certainly the anchor point and a major attractor, but part of a broader and more diverse mix of activity,” Ms Montgomery told Business News.

“What we are seeing now is a step-change in thinking from ‘I’m building a building’ to ‘I’m creating a destination’.”

The holistic approach, Ms Montgomery said, gave developers a two-pronged benefit.

“Ultimately, it creates value for the development,” she said.

“It’s all about enhancing the asset value, and it’s certainly about making that contribution to the growth of a city in a meaningful way.

“Businesses are also becoming more discerning about where they lease space and what they are after.

“Obviously the economic fundamentals are critically important, but it is also about issues like employee attraction and retention, and the kind of experience that people have when they go to work.

“What happens around and outside of an office building is now equally important to the amenities and facilities on the inside.”

Another precinct that has meaningfully altered a section of the city is 140, the food and beverage offering at the base of commercial tower one40william.

NEW LIFE: The revamp of 140 has created a vibrant food and beverage precinct. Photo: Jarrad Seng.

However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing at 140, which was launched as a fashion precinct when the building was completed in 2010.

Shoppers were not lured away from the bustling Murray and Hay Street malls and into the base of the tower, which was largely seen as unwelcoming and uninteresting. Flagship retailer Herdsman Fresh also exited a short-lived tenancy.

Building owner Cbus Property set about repositioning the space and, with the collaboration of JLL retail and marketing manager Kristi Dempster, redefined the offering.

The precinct was relaunched to the public last month, with American-style diner East Village and renowned dude-food chain Ribs & Burgers opening amid much fanfare.

Other restaurants at 140 contributing to a truly global experience are German beerhall Brotzeit, modern Chinese restaurant Bam Bam Boo, and of course, Jamie’s Italian.

At the 140 relaunch, Cbus Property chief executive Adrian Pozzo said the process to get the tenancy mix right was a long haul, but a worthwhile one.

“The retailers that we’ve put into our investment are second to none,” Mr Pozzo said.

“The selection of food is that varied it makes it a wonderful place to be.

“We started this in 2006 and finished in 2010, and in that space of time, the demand for what people wanted in respect to food and shopping and so forth, it changed dramatically over those four years.”

Mr Pozzo said the aim at 140 was to create something that had a Melbourne-laneway vibe, but still retained an identity that was quintessentially Perth.

“We sat down and looked at it holistically from design, to architecture, to art, and also the leasing and the tenancy mix,” he said. “We just wanted one of everything so people have a choice.”

And the new approach has been successful; Jamie’s Italian has been very popular since it opened, while the crowds flocking to Ribs & Burgers and East Village since both opened are testament to Ms Dempster’s vision, Mr Pozzo said.

“All the tenancies are full and there is a list of more wanting to come in,” he said.

“The only thing we haven’t got activated at the moment is the pub, they are in the process of fitting that out.

“That will create another destination that we don’t have in that facility.”

Upcoming developments in Perth are also applying a precinct-based approach.

Developer FJM Property is gearing up to open the State Buildings, formerly known as the Old Treasury Buildings, later this year, which will result in the creation of a boutique restaurant and high-end retail precinct to complement the luxury hotel and 33-storey office tower in the historic locale.

Also in the eastern end of the city, a big focus on place making and precinct planning is being undertaken at BGC Development’s 480 Hay Street, which will ultimately become home to Western Australia’s first Westin Hotel, as well as a 22-level office building.

Included in the project are a two-level restaurant in the historic Hibernian Hall and three levels of shops, restaurants and bars with rooftop gardens facing Irwin Street.

The State Buildings and 480 Hay Street are also expected to have big flow-on effects to the surrounding area, with significant opportunities for hospitality operators anticipated to emerge over the next few years.

The precinct approach doesn’t only apply to new buildings, with owners of some of the city’s older landmarks also applying the principles to redevelopment works.

A $70 million redevelopment of Cloisters Square was topped off early last month, with the arrival in Perth of American-style steakhouse restaurant Chophouse the culmination of three years’ work.

Cloisters has now become a go-to lunch spot for many terrace workers, while coffee shop Lowdown has also become a popular destination.

A few blocks down the Terrace, Mirvac Group, which is the developer behind the office tower at the State Buildings, recently lodged a development application for a $14.5 million revamp of Allendale Square, concentrating on the ground floor retail and dining tenancies.

Ms Montgomery said a network of exciting destinations was starting to emerge.

“Five to seven years ago, those places didn’t really exist,” she said.

“But now you can really choose what you want … it’s been fundamental to the revitalisation of people’s emotional connection with the city.

“It has added layers and a depth of experience to the city and those precincts are able to stand on their own and be part of a much greater thing.”

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