Freo King of retail

SIRONA CAPITAL has released plans for the retail component of the $270 million Kings Square development — think Fremantle Markets with lots of bling.

Called FOMO, the precinct will house between 20 and 40 shops across 5500sqm, the centrepiece being the double-storey Emporium precinct where customers will flow around barely-defined shops.

Sirona managing director Matthew McNeilly says the departure from standard shopfronts was deliberate, as they’d looked at examples in Denver, Tel Aviv and Argentina where a more temporary look and rapid evolution of the space had been effective in getting people to return.

“One of the challenges is that retail is changing and consumer behaviour is changing so you are going to have to have places that change,” Mr McNeilly said.

• Artist’s impressions of Sirona’s proposed FOMO retail hub at Kings Square.

“FOMO will create bold, daring connections for people to sit in, walk through and engage with as they wander and explore.

“The traditional delineation between retail offering will be replaced with open planes of sight and an organic and free-flowing experience.”

He says they’re taking a punt that customers in the future are going to reject the standard glass and concrete shop-fronts of big malls and look for an experience that’s more authentic.

Zebra Creative developed the branding and naming strategy for the development, reversing usual development practice and getting the vibe before worrying about the walls.

They held workshops with a wide range of businesses and community members to try and capture what makes Fremantle unique.

As a result the design has multiple layers that represent various aspect of port city life, from containers to its heritage.

Early next year locals will also be invited to come to a paint-in at FOMO, with the chance for images, colours or designs to be incorporated in the final product.

Mr McNeilly said Sirona had decided to offer the low-grade retail outlets underneath the Queensgate car park to artisans, and says they’ll have a relaxed policy as to opening times.

He says the effect will be that people might get lucky on a trip into town and see an artist at work.

Retailing architectural guru Susanne Pini from HDR says Newman Court will be a meandering path of discover through slow food, good food and fast food before morphing into homewares, apparel and the handmade.

“The double storey Emporium will be the centrepiece, where FOMO becomes a cool container for an eclectic mix of organic and free-flowing retail concepts with a borderless experience.”

Sitting above it all will be two office blocks housing state government employees.

Fremantle Markets manager Natasha Atkinson said they’d been in contact with Sirona.

“Fremantle Markets  is an icon attracting over 2.5 million visitors each year. With over 100 years of heritage and an atmosphere that is distinctly Fremantle, we feel quite confident it can’t be replicated,” Ms Atkinson said.

“Matthew McNeilly has given us his word he will not be looking to replicate the Fremantle Markets and that FOMO will be attracting new tenants and customers to Fremantle.”

by STEVE GRANT

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