DIGITAL business incubator Enkel is facing another delay in its bid to move into the old Naval Store at the river entrance to Fremantle.
The social enterprise first submitted a business plan to Fremantle council four years ago and there was talk of a launch in August last year, but the project has been hit by a number of glitches; the latest being the council discovering it doesn’t have the budget to fully restore the building.
The city set aside about $500,000 for restorations, but when they put the job out for tender they were getting quotes of about $1 million.
That means a mezzanine level that was an important element of Enkel’s business plan won’t be restored and will instead be blocked off. The building’s shabby exterior will also be overlooked.
This week the council’s Finance, Police, Operations and Legislation Committee was set to vote on a tenderer to complete a reduced scope of works, but to the frustration of Enkel founder Peter van Schie the item was pulled.
Mr van Schie told the Herald this week the reduced floor space would impact on how much room Enkel could devote to community activities, as there has to be enough “monetised” space to make the venture economically viable.
But last week he submitted a revised business plan to the council and says they’re keen to get in as soon as possible to start activating the space.
“You’re never sure about when that’ll be, because so many times we have been this close and the council have gone ‘wait a minute’,” Mr van Schie said.
“For two years we had a space in Vic Park and we were shopping a few ideas, so we’ve been active, but now we run them out of other people’s places.”
A staff report to the FPOL committee also noted that under the limited restoration some of Enkel’s planned activities would no longer be permitted, which Mr van Schie says he needs to get clarified.
There’ll also have to be a renegotiated lease because of the reduced working area, which is likely to lead to a rent reduction.
“It’s four years of my life I won’t get back, dealing with Fremantle council,” Mr van Schie sighed.
by STEVE GRANT