THE Fremantle Italian Club has pushed the button on a multi-million redevelopment which will see it get new clubrooms surrounded by apartments up to five storeys.
This week the club signed its end of a memorandum of understanding with Fremantle council and developer Fini Group to transform the southern end of the Esplanade Reserve and adjoining car parks. The council voted to sign up at its April monthly meeting.
Club vice-president John Alberti said it would be the biggest development in the city after Kings Square.
“They’re talking about four storeys on Marine Terrace and five storeys along Mews Road,” Mr Alberti said.
President Fred Calginari said the new premises would be aimed at attracting a new generation of members with facilities such as basketball courts and a gym.
“The only facility at the moment is the Esplanade for conferences, so we are hoping to be able to offer that as well,” Mr Calginari said.
Mr Alberti said apart from attracting new members to the ageing club, they also hoped to attract the broader community by opening up the facilities.
“Currently we are pretty exclusive to members, and while we do have some functions and weddings and the like, it would make it a real community hub,” Mr Alberti said.
The pair said plans weren’t advanced far enough to know what the ultimate footprint of the club would be, but said they were meeting with Fini representatives later in the week to get down into more detail.
Fini Group boss Adrian Fini’s father Tony, who founded the company, is a life member of the Italian Club.
Part of the development under discussion is a four-storey car park, although the pair are cautious about discussing it knowing there’s likely to be local backlash.
Fremantle council said under the MOU Fini would be responsible for preparing the proposal and working with the state government to resolve land tenure issues.
The club is currently on a C-Class reserve, which is likely to mean the area will have to be rezoned to allow apartments.
But mayor Brad Pettitt was quick to point out the Esplanade park area would be expanded by 4500sqm under the plan so it could line up with Norfolk Street, which would be extended across the railway line to Mews Road.
“The Italian Club building is looking a little tired so it would be great to see it reinvigorated,” Dr Pettitt told the Herald.
“Extending Norfolk Street across the railway line through to Mews Road as part of the redevelopment would provide a much better connection to Fishing Boat Harbour that the current crossing at Arundel Street.”
Dr Pettitt said the vision for the area was being driven by the council’s Freo 2029: Transformational Moves strategy.
by STEVE GRANT