What is exceptional?

Silverleaf Investments boss Gerard O’Brien wants to redevelop The Woolstores in Fremantle’s East End, but critics say his ambitious proposal is not up to the “exceptional” design standard required. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED, MICHELE CORBO—an unsuccessful candidate for North Ward at last year’s Fremantle council election—ponders the meaning of the word “exceptional”.

What is exceptional?
Is it that a resident ratepayer is willing to spend $80 million on mixed-use development, equivalent to approximately 70 individual free-standing dwellings, give or take a dwelling or part thereof.

The project is estimated to return $6m in revenue to the City of Fremantle plus flow-on income for the town.

What is exceptional?
Is it that this individual has returned nine times to seek approval at a conservative personal expense of let’s say $100,000 at a time. That’s $900,000 in total.

What is exceptional?
The proven sensibility of this resident ratepayer. The Atwell Arcade has an historical reference of its criteria, referencing historical progress of this town.

What is exceptional?
Johnston Court has 72 dwellings and eight retail shops. Johnston Court’s revenue to the City of Fremantle is approximately $160,000? The smallest carbon foot print in freo?

• Artist’s impression of the proposed Woolstores redevelopment.

What is exceptional?
Seventy individual free-standing dwellings, returning approximately $140,000 in revenue to the City of Fremantle, existing on a much, much larger carbon footprint?

What is exceptional?
What was the motivation and considerations that allowed the councillors and developer to exhibit such cooperation on Johnston Court?

What is exceptional?
“The value of an expert opinion”. Maybe it comes down to motive, agenda, fear … anyone’s guess.

What is exceptional?
Baubles, satisfaction, discontent, self-interest, agendas. For example, square or round windows, too big, too small. Why didn’t they do that? Why did they do that?  The sky is falling…? It’s a building. Created by humans for humans.

What is exceptional?
Is it how we idolise the object? These objects can’t exist without its creators, who also create basic economics.

What is exceptional?
The four requirements of viability as I understand them to be are primary (food), secondary (entertainment), tertiary (all other needs), quaternary (the $s needed to exchange for all of the above).

What is exceptional?
Is it that the residents of Fremantle no longer contribute in the third and fourth requirements?

What is exceptional?
Approximately 38 years ago another investor proposed a mixed-use development. Let’s guess the unrealised revenue the City of Fremantle gave away.

My guess is approximately $50m.

This includes ongoing loss of intergenerational jobs, income and revenue stream for our retailers.

The monies from the rates and the spending of approximately 2000 employees this project would have attracted is now collected by the City of Melville.

The Melville community must be waiting in anticipation for history to repeat itself. Resting on our laurus nobilis? Even laurus nobilis withers.

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