SUNSET EVENTS has walked away from the J-Shed on Arthur Head.
Late Thursday afternoon the Herald confirmed the events promoter and Fremantle council had agreed to terminate the 21-year lease on unit 1 of the J-Shed.
It came after repeated knockbacks of Sunset’s proposed tavern and live music venue at the historic precinct, the latest by the WA Planning Commission last month.
Sunset director David Chitty said the surrender was by mutual agreement.
“We were hopeful of WAPC approval but respect their decision,” Mr Chitty said.
“We sought advice following that decision and felt that while we could go through another process it would take a considerable amount of time and we ultimately just want to see the space activated.
“Under those circumstances, we took that position to the city who agreed it was in the best interests of everyone for Sunset Events to surrender the lease.”
Mr Chitty said he’d been busy this week at the company’s other Fremantle venue, Freo Social Hall, which is based in the National Trust-owned drill hall in Parry Street and has been a hive of activity recently.
City ward councillor Adin Lang told the Herald the decision gave the council a “clean slate” to start again.
“Now we can put this behind us and look at other options,” Cr Lang said.
The tavern was fought tooth and nail by artists already established in the J-Sheds and the local inner city residents’ association, and both were gracious in their victory.
“I think that is a good decision on [Sunset’s] part and I wish them will in their ventures that aren’t relying on J-Shed,” sculptor Greg James said.
Mind you, his initial reaction was: “Hallelujah!”
“I think the council now has an opportunity to work with the community to enhance what they have got, and what we have in this little space is a gem that could be made so much better without having to go to someone with the big bucks,” Mr James said.
FICRA representative Mary Rose Baker said it was a “fantastic” outcome after five years of bitter battles.
“We very much welcome this decision by the council and Sunset Events and expect the council to recognise the importance of this A-class reserve,” Ms Baker said.
“We have always said we had no objections to a small bar or cafe, and that was the nature of the original expression of interest.”
by STEVE GRANT