The Mediterranean Shipping Company is set to make Fremantle’s West End its new home.
The company plans to relocate 140 staff from its HQ in McCabe Street, North Fremantle to the corner of Cliff and Phillimore streets in 2015, providing an economic boon to the city’s ailing CBD.
Staff will work in Wilhelmsen House—a heritage-listed 1902 building MSC purchased from a consortium which included Salvatore Galati from the Wray Ave deli—and a new two-storey building to be built on a car park next door.
Wilhelmsen House, designed by Talbot Hobbs, was built for rural giant Dalgety and Co and at £30,000 was the state’s largest privately-let architectural contract at the time. Shortly after construction the Fremantle Harbour Trust moved in to oversee CY O’Connor’s just-finished port.
The revamped complex will operate for 18 hours a day and MSC staff numbers will eventually rise to 180.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the planned relocation was a major fillip for the city.
“Having over 100 extra people working in the West End of Freo will provide a great boost for the local economy,” he said.
“The new building will be sympathetic to Freo’s heritage past, with a modern twist—similar to some of the buildings at Notre Dame University.”
Dr Pettitt aded the complex would not have extensive parking to cater for the 140 workers.
“We want to encourage people to cycle to work and use public transport—the office will be only a few hundred metres from Freo train station,” he said.
The MSC relocation bucks the trend of companies moving out of the city to larger premises with cheaper rents in the suburbs.
Architect Murray Slavin said the complex could “herald the return of the shipping industry to the West End of the city.”
MSC, founded in Geneva in 1970, is the world’s second largest shipping line in terms of container capacity It opened its first Australian branch in Sydney in 1989 and now has offices across the nation.
MSC Fremantle wouldn’t comment because its development application has yet to go before Fremantle council—it’s due next month.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK