FREMANTLE CBD traders have had an early Christmas present, with Sirona Capital planning to reopen 470 bays at the Queensgate car park on October 31.
The announcement comes just in time for the important festive season shopping splurge, but for traders like Ji Yeon from The Sushi in Freo, simply having more foot traffic through the High Street mall couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We really need more customers coming through, because Fremantle has been so quiet,” Ms Yeon told the Herald.
Bargaining away the last of the day’s produce to the few souls in the mall, Ms Yeon says she’s also been struggling to find a spare monthly car bay around the city to lease.
Queensgate has been closed for seven months, and many traders around the Kings Square precinct say that’s had a bigger impact on their weekly earnings than the disruption from associated roadworks.
Sirona Capital’s PR manager Lauren Cross said local traders at an update last week were so grateful for the news their responses had literally brought tears to her eyes.
The upgrade has included structural work, epoxy coatings on the floors, new paint, line markings, new lighting and CCTV cameras.
Sirona’s development manager Jonny Sheldrick says the epoxy coating has a texture that produces a slight squeak from car tyres to discourage hoons from roaring around the re-opened car park.
“The new lift and stairwell are still being completed and are expected in a few more months, however the original lift and stairwell will be available until that time,” Mr Sheldrick said.
“We would have like for all work to be completed before re-opening, however we’ve taken the decision to honour our commitment to supporting local retailers and traders by reopening this month.”
Mr Sheldrick said contractor Pro Build had done a great job to get Queensgate open in time for Christmas following a cold and wet winter which significantly slowed down the curing of the epoxy.
Parking prices had gone up to $3 an hour, but Mr Sheldrick says he hopes customers will be forgiving: “We did spend a lot of money on the building…”
There will also be a $9 early bird all-day parking rate.
To try enticing people back to the car park, Mr Sheldrick says they’ll be offering free parking between 6am and 7pm until Monday November 5.
by STEVE GRANT
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