10/03/2011 - 00:00

Victoria Quay in limbo

10/03/2011 - 00:00

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FREMANTLE Ports says it still wants a commercial development at Victoria Quay, after ING Real Estate abandoned its contentious $350 million redevelopment plans.

Victoria Quay in limbo

FREMANTLE Ports says it still wants a commercial development at Victoria Quay, after ING Real Estate abandoned its contentious $350 million redevelopment plans.

ING was facing a March 16 deadline to start construction at Victoria Quay, which had been delayed because of negative effects stemming from the downturn in property markets during the global financial crisis.

“Unfortunately these impacts remain and this means that it is not possible for to be certain of a future construction start date,” Fremantle Ports chief executive Chris Leatt-Hayter said.

But Mr Leatt-Hayter said the idea of a significant development at the site was not dead and buried, and Fremantle Ports would be going back to the drawing board to determine the best course of action.

“We will continue to explore the way forward, taking into account community feedback on the previous plans,” Mr Leatt-Hayter said.

“Our aim will be to promote development that enhances the Victoria Quay experience, is commercially viable and achieves improved linkages with Fremantle city.”

Fremantle Society president Jon Strachan said the community group, which was one of the more vocal opponents of the development, was delighted Fremantle Ports and ING had decided against re-submitting its design proposal.

“I look forward to something more appropriate being developed for that area, and in the interim it would be really nice if rather than leaving it as a vacant site, it can be put to good use,” he said.

Mr Strachan said it was the form of the development proposed by ING that was such a bone of contention for Fremantle locals.

“It was the fact that it was a box shopping centre and a giant carpark on some of the most prime land in WA,” Mr Strachan told WA Business News.

“There was a masterplan put up and the ING development in no way fitted any reasonable person’s interpretation of that plan.

“The society would definitely support an alternative, and we’re organising meetings to get together to flesh out exactly what that might be at the moment.”

The Western Australian Planning Commission originally approved ING’s plans, which involved the construction of a 30,000 square metre, seven-storey mixed use commercial and office development and tourism precinct, in December 2007.

At the time of approval, Fremantle Ports claimed the project would result in an $81 million increase in Fremantle’s annual retail turnover, the creation of 1,050 jobs and an estimated two million additional visitors to the port city each year.

A subsequent review by the State Administrative Tribunal led to a change in the construction starting date to March 16 2009.

Part of that approval was a condition that substantial commencement of the development had to take place within two years.

ING’s funding arrangements for Victoria Quay fell through during the crisis, and the project’s capacity to attract prospective tenants was subsequently decreased.

The development had also been delayed by negotiations with the Fremantle Port Authority over soil contamination in the vicinity of one of the buildings in the centre of the site.

 

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