FREMANTLE Technical College could be turned into a creative arts hub by the Minderoo Group and local entrepreneur Kate Hulett.
The historic building, on the corner of South Terrace and Essex Street on the Cappuccino Strip, was put on the market by the state government on Wednesday, and the Chook understands there have already been discussions about the creative hub, with Fremantle council keen to provide support if the move is successful.
Ms Hulett manages Spacemarket, which activates empty buildings in WA, and is a photographer and designer who also runs a hat label and earring brand.
She previously worked with Minderoo on the Fremantle Biennale art event.
“It’s a great central spot for something like the Collingwood Arts Precinct or the JamFactory in Adelaide,” she says.
“I could envisage studios, a cafe and shops, and it’s got that lovely courtyard.
“This is a great opportunity to have an arts centre bang in the middle of Freo.”
The 2400sqm college is across from the old Hungry Jacks – unoccupied since December 2018 – and opposite Fremantle Markets, which is closed Monday to Thursday.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt says reactivating the college would help bridge the quiet stretch between the Cappuccino Strip and the Norfolk Hotel and The Old Synagogue at the South Terrace and Parry Street intersection.
“There’s a new precinct emerging at that end of town with the opening of The Old Synagogue, Freo.Social, and the redevelopment of the old Police Station and Warders Cottages on Henderson Street,” Dr Pettitt said.
“There’s a trend of re-imagining and re-using old heritage buildings in Fremantle.
“When it’s done well and sympathetically, it’s exciting for the town.”
Recently, heritage buildings in the centre of Fremantle have been snaffled up: The Orient Hotel and the old Spicers building were purchased by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, and the old police station was bought by Silverleaf Investments, headed-up by Gerard O’Brien.
The two-storey college was built in the late 1800s, starting life as a public school before coming a technical college in 1902.
Lands minister Ben Wyatt said any reuse of the college would have to be respectful to its past.
“Potential buyers will need to ensure that the heritage values are retained and demonstrate they are able to work sympathetically with the site’s century-old character to create a new destination for Fremantle that both residents and visitors can enjoy.”
Conservation and maintenance works were recently completed by the state government to prepare the college for sale.
Expressions of interest for the college building close at 2pm on March 4.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK