It’s good to see Kate Emery out spruiking Mayor Brad Pettitt’s message of a grand vision for Fremantle once again. Not exactly a great surprise as she rarely questions the validity of some of the plans and is an obvious supporter of the Mayor.
Grand Plan to Overhaul Freo
Kate mentions the “biggest overhaul since the America’s Cup”. Haven’t we heard all of this before? This is the same spiel we have been hearing now for the last 7 years. One thing for sure is that it’s not anywhere near the size and scale of the overhaul that was caused by the America’s Cup.
“The ambitious plan involves reconnecting the city with the harbour, in part to tap into the lucrative, growing cruise liner market.”
Yes, well, that is something that we all know is happening. But considering how long it has taken Perth to get the rail line sunken and the cost, I very much doubt successive governments will see this as a high priority. Has a cost for this even been worked out? It’s all well and good to say “we need to sink the rail line and connect up the Harbour with the Town”, but its unrealistic. Maybe the City could work on a better bridge and connection points, or a scheme to entice people from Cruise liners to come into the CBD.
“That includes an extra 9500sqm of retail and 30,000sqm of offices at Victoria Quay, expanding the Fishing Boat Harbour to create a tourism node and better facilities around Bathers Beach.”
Didn’t ING try to put in a development at Victoria Quay and it was knocked back because of community outrage and the size and scale of the development? This wasn’t all that long ago. I totally support the Port Authority developing the land, but the community needs to get behind it. Will they get behind it without nitpicking every last detail is the issue.
“It also envisages overhauling the Fremantle Oval precinct, and possibly using the Stan Reilly site for affordable housing.”
Affordable housing? Please. They keep dragging this out and they know full well its a practical impossibility. Maybe almost cartoonish. Allow the market to decide, put it out for expressions of interest. Allow a high-rise development there. It’s next to two other major high-rise projects. What is the big deal in selling off the land with an allowable 10 story limit. It will otherwise maximise the return for the ratepayer and the council will still have discretion over the overall planning. Why they continue to try to tell developers that a certain amount of housing has to be sold for a certain price, is ridiculous. There are government schemes in place that make housing more affordable. The council needs to stop trying to interfere.
“The plan relies heavily on projects either yet to be approved or to some extent out of the city’s control, including light rail into the city centre and the $270 million Kings Square development.”
I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard the light rail component. Again, cartoonish. Why would the State Government waste taxpayers money on light rail in Fremantle? The Greens have been pushing for this, but it’s not worth it. It’s a fabrication and pipe dream at best and the Chamber is buying into it as well. Would it be cost-effective? I doubt it. A light rail system would only be effective once there is a large amount of people and commerce. This hasn’t happened, It’s not going to happen soon and it would be foolish to spend a heap of money on a project that doesn’t leverage the maximum benefit.
“Kings Square would have an extra 20,000sqm of retail space, 1500 new homes and 70,000sqm of offices in the city centre.”
I’m sure it will. But the question has to be, will it even go ahead? There are many people who feel it won’t. Sirona has put too many of its eggs in one basket and the City has tied itself to them. This isn’t surprising as the Council have been clutching at anything that comes along. Sirona has sold a magnificent vision of itself and how it sees Fremantle and, his mate, Brad Pettitt, the Mayor, has bought into it.
Mayor Brad Pettitt still believes that his plan will bring in thousands of people into the CBD of Fremantle and it will be transformational. That may be true, but only if it succeeds. But only if Sirona get an anchor tenant. But only if the State Government decide the put the Department of Housing in the old Myer building. The Sirona proceeds will rejuvenate the council chambers, but only once all these other variables go forward. But only if you keep electing him Mayor for the next 20 years can we expect to see this transformational occurrence.
“He said the current northern entrance to Fremantle ‘couldn’t be much worse’ and the Queen Victoria Street bridge could be transformed rather than torn down and replaced. That proposal is modelled on New York’s High Line, a former freight rail line turned into a popular public park suspended over Manhattan’s streets.”
There is possibly only one element of the supposedly ‘new’ but ‘old’ vision that makes some sense, and that is the questioning over the old Fremantle bridge and its likely future. The Mayor loses the plot though when he tries to make comparisons of Fremantle with New York. He seems to forget that NYC has a population the same as Australia.
Why would you take the old bridge and then add grass to it, then put a cafe on it and suggest that. Although I’m all for new business ventures, he really cannot see past Fremantle having other businesses other than cafes. Where are people going to park? Oh, they are supposed to walk and ride their bikes there, I forgot. No, hang on, there is a City of Fremantle car park at the jetty where people can pay, which will probably be sold off or turned into Skate Park.
“There’s a debate with Government. We’re pushing very hard for, rather than just a minor upgrade of the bridge, they should seek replacement.”
So on the one hand, he wants to keep the bridge and turn it into a grassed walking, riding your bike zone with cafes and no-cars, but on the other he wants it replaced. That’s not being decisive. Either replace it, or turn it into something. The Mayor whats a bet each way on what happens.
I think he is suffering from New York fever since Sirona has started the old Woolstores apartment complex. That is a good development, but that was started years and years ago and is only now starting. It will be a 10 year project by the time it finishes.
“Fremantle retailers are mostly optimistic about what they see as efforts to restore the city to its former glory. Kate Hulett and partner Matt Bale run the Kate & Abel homewares shop and cafe and manage the MANY 6160 retail project inside the former Myer building.”
Asking one retailer of a home wares shop and looking at MANY 6160 is a poor example. MANY 6160 is only open 3 days a week. It’s a joke. Fremantle is supposed to be a 7 day a week economy. MANY 6160 is nothing more than a market, which isn’t going to be around for a long time.
“There’s certainly a movement”, Yes, but movement of people away from the CBD.
“Freo’s got something: the port city, the grit, the history and the beautiful buildings.” This is starting to sound like Sam Wainwright describing the beggars as gritty undertone, as if we need beggars in Fremantle to add culture to the place.
The secondhand clothing retailers think that its only going to take two or three years. What about the last 7 years? How many more years is it going to take. The answer is “as long as it takes”.
The Mayor went to the last election 18 months ago with the statement “Lets Finish What We Started“. Fair enough at the time. But how long is it going to take? How long do you need? What if you don’t finish? What if, what you’ve started is rubbish?
These are the questions that need to be asked.
No doubt his next election statement will be “Look, Were Getting There, But It Will Take A Little Longer“.
Filed under: Business
, City of Fremantle
Tagged: Brad Pettitt
, City of Fremantle
, Fremantle Ports
, State Government