Foodie hub for Freo

• Artist’s impression of “The Old Synagogue” venue. Image by Arcadia Design Studio.

THE old heritage-listed Fremantle synagogue could be transformed into a hospitality hub.

A development application has been submitted to council to redevelop the site, opposite The Norfolk Hotel, as “The Old Synagogue” with a beer garden, restaurant, and front and basement bars.

The design guide submitted to council states that each section will “have its own unique and identifiable aesthetic”, which will “respect and celebrate the heritage building fabric”.

The design documents by Beaconsfield-based Arcadia Design Studio show the beer garden is intended to be a casual, whimsical venue that is “like an old conservatory overtaken by the garden decades ago”.

The restaurant will be modern Asian fine dining, the basement bar will be a cosy, secretish cellar, and the front bar will have a casual industrial feel, with a rooftop section with harbour views.

The South Terrace synagogue is heritage-listed and the development application says the proposed works “display a sympathetic approach to the heritage of the place, particularly for the reason that there will be no new works completed to the existing fabric of the Synagogue building”.

The basement bar will keep most of the raw limestone walls, and “it is of the utmost importance to touch the existing fabric only when necessary,” the application states.

There’s currently approval in place for a four-storey hotel on the land but that never got finished.

According to a history penned by Wendy and Ari Antonovsky the synagogue was built in 1902, when Fremantle’s Jewish population was only about 60 people.

But it wasn’t used for long because the Jewish population started to move to Perth, and by 1910 the Fremantle services ceased.

The building was sold to the Defence Department in 1916. It was later owned by Fremantle council, and then sold in 2004, before being auctioned off again last year.

In 1976 the Perth Hebrew Congregation applied to Fremantle council to take the star to put on the new synagogue at Menora.

The Antonovsky history says the council refused, but offered a replica star, and the original still sits on the South Terrace building.

Since 1910 the building has been a cafe, a carpet shop, and a clothing outlet.

Public consultation is open at http://www.mysay.fremantle.wa.gov.au/92-south-tce until February 1.

by DAVID BELL

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