DESPITE being underwhelmed by initial designs, Fremantle councillors have given the green light to leasing out a three-storey cafe and tavern in their new Kings Square offices.
On Wednesday night, before a packed public gallery, councillors voted to offer Bar Orient owner Tony Taylor a 10-year lease with a 10-year option on the northern triangular corner of the building.
However, following criticism from the gallery about a proposed rent-free period of three years, mayor Brad Pettitt had that knocked back to two years, with Mr Taylor now having to pay a small percentage of his profit in the third and fourth years.
New councillor Su Groome kicked off concerns about the design, saying there didn’t seem to be much family space, even though the cafe would overlook the council’s new $350,000 playground.
Fellow newbie Marija Vujcic urged her colleagues to delay a decision and have the proposal assessed by an independent expert.
Cr Vujcic said the council’s expressions of interest process had only unearthed one proposal, and she wanted a second opinion to find out whether the industry was sending the council a message.
Adding another tavern license into Fremantle’ already crowded mix was a common concern during question time, however, councillors were adamant Mr Taylor would be constrained to a family-friendly cafe.
That didn’t convince one woman, who yelled at councillors as she stormed out of the building.
Former ratepayers association president Mark Woodcock also raised concerns about more grog in the square as he read out a long list of questions that the council took on notice.
Mr Woodcock said he’d never encountered a council that had a pub on its premises, and queried whether new councillors fully understood the 2012 Kings Square business plan which underpins its $240 million development.
There had been rumours around town that Mr Taylor’s proposal was being bankrolled by Australia’s biggest brewer Lion Beer Australia.
But he told the Herald that only involved a deal to supply Lion beers on tap, which was a standard commercial deal at most licensed venues.