IT’S a dystopian scene; walking through the eerily-flapping door atop the old Myer building in central Freo, you could be forgiven for thinking you were walking onto a Mad Max set.
Hidden from view by high, graffiti-strewn walls, the rooftop has become the haunt of vagrants, druggies and vandals. There’s an inconceivably thick carpet of broken glass, innumerable paint cans, piles of rotting pallets, bikes, machinery, an abandoned bar and barren garden boxes that hint at Freo council’s previous efforts to turn the space into a hip hangout, shopping trolley, old couches – you name it, it’s up here.
But more worrying, near a shaft that the trespassers have been using to climb down into the bowels of the building, a tinder-dry piece of wood sits on top of last weekend’s West Australian. A lighter next door appears to have thankfully defeated attempts to get it working.
The boss of owner Sirona Capital, Matthew McNeilly, says they’re aware of the clandestine gatherings and “we’re all over that”, but it’s a constant game of patching up one smashed entry point after another.
“Since Queensgate’s last tenants moved out, we have had security patrols twice a day, so not a lot can happen there,” Mr McNeilly said.
“But they’ve come across some interesting adventures up there.” That’s included sex romps in broad daylight.
Mr McNeilly said this week the council approved some amendments to the original plan, and apart from some negotiations over awnings which he says “is no real biggie” Sirona is ready to pull the trigger and send builder Probuild in to start the demolition.
He denies rumours circulating this week about delays, which appear to have been a miscommunication following a traders’ update, and says Probuild have been setting up their offices quietly inside, while pre-demolition stripping is likely to start in a couple of weeks.
“Early in the new year,” he says of the hard grunt work.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt says the council’s aware of the vandals and is already thinking of how it’ll go about protecting its current admin building once it moves out next month. He says they’re on the brink of getting the final plans for the replacement, but it could stay empty for some time.
by STEVE GRANT