The long-anticipated $220 million Kings Square redevelopment has fallen a year behind schedule, without even starting.
The news is a blow to Fremantle traders, who regard the project as a lifeline for the port city’s ailing retail sector.
Mayor Brad Pettitt says continuing delays by the state government in sorting out its public service decentralisation plans are the “major reason”.
The timelines were, “recently just extended again so we are now looking at a decision on this by the end of this year,” he says.
The council and its corporate partner Sirona had planned to start work this month on delivering new cafes and restaurants, offices, shops and apartments, a new library and a boutique hotel. The earliest start date is now this time next year.
Dr Pettitt is keen on nabbing the WA housing department as an anchor tenant at Kings Square but says the project is not dependent on it.
He also claims to not be disappointed with the delay, saying there’s still plenty to be done: “The international architectural competition will still kick-off as planned in the next few weeks,” he says.
Sirona managing director Matthew McNeilly is keen to get cracking: “Construction may start at the start of 2014 or at the end of 2014, depending on tenant pre-completion.
“The thing is, buildings don’t just magically appear. To get a project of this size and scale of the ground takes time. But we are working our butts off on the designs and development.”
Meanwhile, Spacemarket, which holds the lease for the Myer building, plans to rent out 30 spaces for independent retailers from October until April.
Dr Pettit says the project—called Myre—could turn the old building into possibly Australia’s biggest pop-up shop.
“It is extremely good news for Freo that some of the best creative minds and young retailers in Perth want to come down and try out some new things in Fremantle.”
by BRENDAN FOSTER