On their own

Former shopping centre manager and internationally famous DJ COLIN NICHOL feels the Kings Square development is more likely to be more isolated than integrated.

IT seems leasing around Kings Square’s FOMO, the “cornerstone” of the precinct’s development, is going better than expected, given there are a few possible businesses likely when little better than none was expected.

There may be other good news but an information blackout is not comforting.

There is the controversial licensed venue approved for the pointy part of the new civic building, adjacent the church with its tempting lawns and the new, hopefully supervised, children’s playground.

Just one applicant surfaced for this after well over 130 were canvassed.

Opposite, under the newly constructed government department buildings a liquor store has been planned for the back, along with a tavern at the entrance. The adjacent FOMO (it apparently means Fremantle On My Own) foodhall is also intended to be licensed, a status they all have yet to gain.

All this in a grouping on one side of the square with the under-construction tavern and brewery in Manning’s Buildings on the other, fronting the town hall.

Additionally, there are intended licensed premises at the back, behind the multi-story carpark on Henderson Street. With these seven and so many already established and other planned licensed venues to choose from it has to be fingers crossed that enough customers will roll up (and out) to keep them all in business.

Fremantle visitors will need to arrive very dry to a town that is anything but. Hopefully all this will not turn back the clock to the “good old days” of “bloodhouse” pubs and drunks in the gutters.

The state departments of transport and communities are preparing to move in and a finance department spokesperson has confirmed: “Staff will begin moving to their new offices in late March 2020; they will begin operations as soon as they move; the move is expected to be completed by the end of June 2020; over 1,500 staff are expected to be moving to the new Kings Square offices from Perth; in addition  nearly 200 staff from other offices in the Fremantle area are expected to be relocated to the new Kings Square building.”

So, it’s about 1500 new weekday commuters for Fremantle.

There will be an effective nil gain from those nearly 200 already there, from council staff moving back or the Rottnest Island Authority crossing the railway line to the square.

A plus to the total would be people of any new businesses, not relocations, if and when premises are occupied.

Move-in date for council is again delayed from the previous prediction of early/mid-2020, to “by Christmas”, more than three years after their move-out.

Tree planting along Adelaide Street is a part of the project – possibly, it has to be assumed due to withheld information, because of a plan dating some years ago to create clear sightlines to the town hall that entailed removing some existing trees including figs near the town hall.

The convention of planting jacaranda, taking a leaf out of Melville council’s arboreal almanac, would create a pleasant avenue, although it is possible to be more original. And there’s been no response to the question of the fate of existing trees.

There can be no automatic “Fremantle Spring” around the corner as a result of this development; the danger is of creating an administrative desert island which is why the questionable success of FOMO and the other countervailing aspects of lighter nature, bright retail and entertainment as envisaged are vital to achieving a successful sector of the city.

But the epicentre will not permanently shift there and there are wider concerns to be addressed around the city.

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