WOOLSTORES shopping centre developer Gerard O’Brien has submitted new six-storey plans for the site.
But in a blow to Freo council’s aims of increasing the CBD’s residential population, aged and student accommodation has been dropped from the design.
Back in April plans for a 10-storey development on the site were knocked back by the council and the state development assessment panel as not being “exceptional” enough to warrant discretionary heights.
Mr O’Brien told the Herald this week that in the wake of the refusal, his company Silverleaf Investments purchased an office building in Murray Street, Perth and moved in tenants originally slated for the Woolstores.
“I am also deeply saddened by the loss of employment in Fremantle as the original project delivered so much for Fremantle in terms of employment, accommodation and diversity of uses, but I am not prepared to spend time fighting authorities as capital is mobile and easily redeployed,” Mr O’Brien said.
Under his new plan for the site, the lower section is similar to the previous design with a little more pizzazz and shops at the street level, and keeps a 141-room hotel and offices above. Coles will lose 1000sqm of its tenancy as a result of the rejig.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said while the council wanted to encourage residential development in the CBD, not every building needed tenants and he flagged the site might be further developed down the track.
“It is less ambitious than before; it’s a good first stage but we are open to further development down the track,” Dr Pettitt told the Herald.
He says a facelift for the area is well overdue; recently that part of the East End copped a pasting on social media as residents and visitors to Freo related stories about encountering anti-social behaviour and crime.
“We are pleased to see a new application for the site, a hotel would be a good addition to that part of town and would bring more people to the area,” Dr Pettitt said.
As with previous designs proposed for the site, and Fremantle generally, opinion was divided when Dr Pettitt posted the designs on his Facebook page and asked for feedback.
“Something that the city can be proud of in 100 years would be good. This doesn’t fit that bill from my perspective,” replied Tom Wilson.
A number of people had similar views to Kathleen Patrick’s: “Agree with the sentiment that it lacks the “Freo touch,” she posted.
The council’s former top planner, Jayson Miragliotta also weighed in on the debate: “Looks ok but wonder if a more uniformed facade treatment would be more complimentary; still like the previous scheme which was more iconic and moved away from the imitation of the surrounding architecture,” he said.
But Chrissy Smith was suitably impressed: “Well… I think it looks fantastic, especially the open style balconies. It’s nice when the building is connected to what is below.”
There is a public information session on Thursday August 2 from 5.30 – 6pm at the council’s HQ at Fremantle Oval and the proposal is open for comment on the mysay.fremantle.wa.gov.au portal until August 21.
by HARRIET BURROWS