AGM and Picture Palaces of the Golden West

Legend Vyonne Geneve, founder of the WA Art Deco Society, gave Fremantle Society members a real treat last Thursday night at the AGM with a talk focussing on the inter war history of Fremantle and its various art deco buildings.

A couple of copies of her wonderful book are still available ($60, which includes a free $35 copy of Fighting for Fremantle). Call John Dowson 9335 2113

The AGM showed that the Society is still in a strong financial position, with hundreds of members. President John Dowson outlined some of the many projects undertaken during the year and the many submissions made.

For 2018 John Dowson will continue as President, with Jack Turnbull as acting honorary treasurer, and a committee including Mike Finn, Agnieshka Kiera, Adele Gaskin, Robert Bodkin, and Ian Molyneux.

Submissions Due today on Police Complex

Yes, you have Christmas shopping to do, but you may want to make a submission today (or tomorrow should still be acceptable to planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au) on the 31-41 Henderson Street former courthouse and police courthouse and warders cottages complex.

Gerard O’Brien bought the large site of around 8000 sqm. He has rushed plans into council to get ahead of Sirona, who are apparently still running around  trying to get their money together. Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf, with major plans for Coles Woolstore site, Mannings Buildings and the police complex, will be keen to get tenants ahead of his rival developers Sirona and the City of Fremantle.

The police complex proposal is for a 6 storey hotel and bars.

To help you, the following comments may be of use:

a) The 6 storey hotel proposal is too high for this heritage area and should be limited to 4 storeys. The developer references the Myer building, but that is too far away and is not a good precedent. Even the Queensgate car park opposite should not be used as a precedent, as it is a damaging anomoly in a heritage precinct.

b) The heritage impact statement prepared for the developer is deficient given this site lies in the buffer zone of the world heritage listed prison. It states that this proposal has POSITIVE benefits for the Fremantle Prison and approach but provides little supporting detail.

c) Effect on adjacent Artillery Hall: No mention is made in the heritage impact statement on the effect on the Artillery Drill Hall two metres from this site, where Sunset Events have a tavern licence for 900 people.

d) Parking: The number of car bays required under the town planning scheme are not being provided and nor is cash in lieu being asked for. Given that council is busy selling off its car parks and that most of them are being built on, the situation for essential parking is unsustainable. Existing businesses are being penalised by having newcomers take their car bays without having to contribute.

Lack of Good Public Consultation

The community is not being given a heads up on major developments and has very little time to respond. Fremantle Ports for example, despite having little interest in new developments in town, were asked back in October what they thought of this proposal. Key relevant interested groups like the Fremantle Society and the National Trust should be given notice of what is in the pipeline months ahead.

Membership Fees Due

Please pay your membership fees now.

BSB 633 000

Acc  143193530

(please note on your bank transfer some detail so we can identify you!)

We encourage you to consider becoming a Life Member for $250, but by sending in at least $30 for single and $40 for family membership you are enabling us to commission the reports that have become a major part of our work.

If you have a particular project you would like to see and would like to fund it, please contact us!

Compliments of the Christmas Season

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

john.dowson@yahoo.com

9335 2113

0409223622

Subway on Steroids

 

Sorry to Show this Again

The image above needs to be shown again, because it represents what the current election should be largely about – the damage to Fremantle from insensitive developments.

Mayor Pettitt and Cr Sullivan have both been on social media this week extolling the virtues of this proposal for the Coles Woolstore development before it has even reached the planning committee. The mayor claims this development and others like the 8 storey approval for 22 Adelaide Street opposite Johnston Court are “well away from the heritage areas” when of course they are not. This building will forever be an inappropriate blockage to the linkage between the station and the Town Hall, and a visual eyesore no tourist will ever pay money to come and see. Visitors arriving at Fremantle Railway Station, a facility beautifully restored inside and out by the government, and others driving along Beach Street, will be jarred by the incongruity of this supsersized Subway sandwich and its offspring.

In Paris, there is one large modern building at Montparnasse Station which impacts the remarkable congruity of the scale of Paris and should never have been allowed. But Paris is huge in comparison to Fremantle and the building proposed here – 50 metres from our railway station, and 200 metres from King’s Square – will forever blight the human scale of the town.

On the far left, looking positively tiny despite being given approval for a 6 storey development, is Marilyn New’s wool store. She will no doubt apply for the same height bonuses as the Coles site.

The Fremantle Society would like to hear from members their thoughts about the project pictured. The Fremantle Society is keen to see developers spend their money, but wonders why we can’t get something that will be the “heritage of the future” we keep being promised.

The Fremantle Society did receive a brief assessment from Ian Molyneux, the inaugural chair of the Heritage Council of Western Australia, who labelled it “moronic”.

When the election is out of the way, this proposal, and other bad news like the financially inept Fremantle Depot decision reported to you on September 20, will come to Council.

Secrets of our Cities

Tonight, Tuesday 10 October at 7.30pm SBS will air their program on Fremantle entitled Secrets of Our Cities. It will be a lively look at some of the colourful characters of Fremantle from Bon Scott to the Rajneeshees.

The Fremantle Society was pleased to help producers, free of any fee, in the making of the program.

The interest shown by the producers in listening to the Fremantle Society and others in town, is in marked contrast to Fremantle Council, who do not attend Fremantle Society events when invited, do not include the Fremantle Society in any heritage discussions, ignore detailed and professional submissions made, and do not invite the Fremantle Society to any events regarding heritage, such as the opening of the Town Hall or the Fremantle Boys School projects.

One of the producers, with a BBC background, commented that Australian towns are generally linear – you drive in one end and drive out the other, but that Fremantle was different – it had a town centre. It is probably the only town in WA to have a town square. It was pointed out that this rarity of having a town square was unfortunately not considered important by the local council who intend to build over their half of the square with a new $50 million administration building as part of a large King’s Square development.

Public Art

The Fremantle Society has received a response from the council to our letter of early September in which we wrote:

The Fremantle Society keen to see high quality public art and high quality restoration projects, but is concerned with the effectiveness of the Percent for Art Program.

The intention of the program was to provide money for heritage or public art. Developers have to spend 1% of the value of their project either on public art or heritage works.

This is an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the public realm with art that is loved and appreciated and which enhances the urban streetscape on a permanent basis, or heritage improvements that add to the authenticity of Fremantle.

It would appear that what the public have received so far has in most cases been very poor quality art installations, often affixed to the property of the developer.

While the Fremantle Society appreciates the detailed response received below, the main issues remain – the poor quality of the public art and the failure of council to do archaeological investigations on all heritage sites as required by their own policy.

Dear John,

Further to my holding reply to you regarding your email dated 13 September, I now have the information you have requested. I apologise for the time taken to respond.

a & b) 8 and 50 Pakenham Street. I have noted your comments. In both cases the commissioning and approval of the artwork was carried out in accordance with the City’s Percent for Art Guidelines, which provides for the Chief Executive Officer to approve the works under delegated authority based on a report by the City’s Public Art Coordinator and a recommendation from the Public Art Advisory Group. This group includes independent professional representatives from the fields of urban design and art.

c) Atwell Arcade/120 High Street. A condition of planning approval required a percent for public art contribution of $69,950. This was expended in conjunction with some of the City’s own public art budget allocation on a joint public art project in High Street Mall. This is the installation of poles with weathervanes at the top which you refer to. The artwork, titled Windcatchers, is by Tom Muller and Arianne Palassis. A plaque is scheduled to be installed to explain the artwork to the public. Its elements are intended to reference Fremantle’s port and maritime and colonial history, with the design of the weathervanes referencing maritime instruments and signs.

d) King’s Square project. The City’s percent for public art and/or heritage policy is applied to developments requiring development approval, and therefore only directly applies to the Sirona development on the former Myer/Queensgate sites and not to the King’s Square redevelopment project as a whole. Therefore the project value you have quoted is not the basis for calculating the amount to be spent on public art. The condition of planning approval on the Sirona development requiring a public art/heritage contribution must be complied with prior to occupation of the development. I understand that Sirona are considering the manner in which they will procure public art to comply with the condition but have not made any firm decision yet. The City’s Percent for Art Guidelines referred to above will apply to Sirona’s public art proposals, which in due course will need to be submitted for consideration by the Public Art Advisory Group as part of the process set out in the Guidelines.

The redevelopment of the City of Fremantle’s administration building is a public work which does not require development approval. Nevertheless, an evaluation of the schematic design of the new civic building against the City’s local planning scheme and policies has been carried out. I refer you to the minutes of the Ordinary Meetings of Council on 26 April and 28 June this year which dealt with this matter. Opportunities for public art are being considered as part of the design process for the new building and for the King’s Square public realm. On 27 September the council approved the release of the draft King’s Square Public Realm Concept Plan for public consultation. The draft Concept Plan includes a section dealing specifically with public art. Community consultation on the draft Concept Plan will be commencing shortly, and the City would welcome the Fremantle Society’s participation in this process. In the meantime, if you would like to see a copy of the draft Concept Plan it is available in the agenda attachments section of the City’s website at the following link:

e) LIV apartments development, 51 Queen Victoria Street. The estimated construction cost of the development as stated in the application for development approval, which is the basis for calculation of the percent for art contribution, is $30 million. Accordingly the planning condition requiring a public art/heritage works contribution attached to the approval of this development specifies a contribution to the value of $300,000. The artwork commissioned by the developers is a collaboration by artists Rick Vermey (a Fremantle resident) and Felix Laboratories. The artwork is to be integrated into the soffit and columns of the pedestrian link through the development from Queen Victoria Street to Quarry Street, and is a geometric sculptural form with illumination. The inspiration for the work is based on coastal weather systems and oceanic currents in the vicinity of Fremantle. I understand that the actual value of the artwork commission is significantly greater than the $300,000 amount specified in the condition of planning approval.

With regard to archaeological investigation, the site of 51 Queen Victoria Street is not included on the Heritage List or within a Heritage Area under the City’s Local Planning Scheme 4, and consequently the requirement to undertake an archaeological investigation under the City’s local planning policy LPP2.7 as a condition of planning approval did not apply to this development. Therefore there is no study which I can provide to you.

I trust this response covers all the points raised in your email.

Kings Square Project planning moves into new phase

From: City of Fremantle media release 13 October 2016

Kings Square Project planning moves into new phase  

City developing masterplan to connect Kings Square with key areas of the city centre ~ to be released for public comment in early 2017.

The City of Fremantle is progressing with detailed planning work for the   $220m Kings Square project to transform the heart of Fremantle into a vibrant civic, retail, commercial and community hub.

new-admin

The current focus for the City is the development of a coordinated masterplan to link public spaces in Kings Square with other key parts of the city centre.

The masterplan will include upgrades to the Kings Square public spaces as well as enhancements to connecting areas including Queen, Adelaide and Point streets and the development of a new public square at the Fremantle Train Station.

“Catalyst”

“The Kings Square project is a catalyst project with a far greater flow-on benefit for Fremantle than just the development of buildings in the Kings Square precinct itself,” said acting Mayor Dave Coggin.

“The project has always been seen by council as a way to reconnect public spaces in central Fremantle which have become disconnected from the city centre over several decades.

“The current work is focused on how best to upgrade surrounding areas which flow towards Kings Square to ensure the entire city centre is well-connected and a more attractive place for visitors, workers and businesses.

“Sirona Capital has entered commercial negotiations with the Department of Finance, which is the next stage in the state government’s Fremantle office accommodation process and this is very positive and encouraging for the project’s future delivery.

“The current master planning work being undertaken will enable us to deliver what will be a game changing project for Fremantle as soon as possible after these commercial discussions are finalised,” Mr Coggin said.

Kings Square and City Centre Masterplan

As part of ongoing work, the City will develop an over-arching masterplan for the public realm in key city centre precincts. This masterplan will guide the detailed design and sequencing of the individual projects which will see parts of the city upgraded with better roads and footpaths, new street furniture, bike lanes, hard and soft landscaping, public art, lighting and CCTV.

kings_inset

The focus areas in the Kings Square and City Centre Masterplan are:

  • Kings Square public realm upgrade
  • a new city square at Fremantle Station Precinct
  • Queen, Adelaide and Point street upgrades
  • City Centre Northern Gateway: Proclamation Tree, Queen Victoria and Parry Street intersection upgrades.

It will also deliver new civic buildings including City of Fremantle administration offices and library, enhanced public spaces, commercial and retail offerings and a new visitor centre.

The masterplan also recognises two important public open spaces: Pioneer Park and Princess May Park. It is anticipated the draft will be developed over coming months and presented to council prior to being released for public comment in early 2017.

The project will create a civic, retail, commercial and community hub that is a vibrant, active and safe place which reflects Kings Square’s unique position in the heart of Fremantle.

Letter to Mayor and Councillors about King’s Square Business Plan

Dear Councillors,

The Fremantle Society has sought advice from a range of professionals regarding the Business Plan. We commissioned a licensed practising valuer to assess key aspects of the plan. The valuations of the properties are not the key elements of what is important, though one major developer told The Fremantle Society on two occasions that Fremantle Council was selling $50 million worth of assets for $29 million.

Amomg the key issues are the financial assumptions. We sent you our concerns in an article which quotes the licensed valuer, but not one councillor responded. To date, it seems not a single Councillor has sought independent advice to better understand the nature of these concerns. Referring questions about these issues back to the Mayor and City of Fremantle staff does not constitute independent advice.

As councillors you know that you have a fiduciary duty to ensure that you are properly informed to make a decision on this matter. Ignorance is and will be no excuse or defence in the future for the consequences of your decision if we pursue these issues through legal means if necessary.

Ten Things You Need to Know about the King’s Square Business Plan

1) While it is essential to do everything possible to get the 1250 Department of Housing workers to Fremantle, they do not have to be in a civic space like King’s Square. Kings Square should be used predominantly for civic, retail and residential purposes, with some commercial.

2) The financial assumption in the Business Plan that the new $47 million administration building will increase to $97 million in 20 years for the building alone is ‘absurd’ according to the licensed practising valuer commissioned by the Fremantle Society. It is totally illogical to say that the current administration building has zero value but that a new one will more than double in value in just 20 years to $97.7 million because it is promised to be a better built building. It is our understanding that NO single councillor has sought independent expert advice on that issue, and they should before voting.

3) The false assumption for the new building destroys the 6% claimed NPV, making it negative, and therefore NOT allowing council to borrow funds for it.

4) Council is selling the 850 car bay Queensgate for $16 million and then intends spending $15 million building a 400 car bay car park on the ‘sacred’ community site known as the Stan Reilly site. That is an unsustainable use of ratepayer funds.

5) Queensgate was earning $1,471,829 in rent in 2010 despite vacancies and some use of the building by council. The valuation of the building in 2012 was $15.9 and should have been sold then instead of emptying the building of tenants and waiting until Sirona was ready to purchase, meaning that when lost rent is taken into account and deducted from the heavily discounted sale figure of $6.3 million, ratepayers will be getting almost NOTHING for one of their prime assets.

6) Building a new administration building for the mayor, councillors and staff, along with an underground library the staff do not want, destroys half of King’s Square and prevents Fremantle getting a true civic square for the future as recommended by experts such as Ruth Durack and the Urban Design Centre using Geoffrey London, Adrian Fini, Richard Weller, Dominic Snellgrove, Patric de Villiers, and supported by others such as Ian Molyneux, Robert Campbell, Linley Lutton, and the Fremantle Society. If a new administration building is needed it does not have to be in the same location.

7) The designs proposed for Myer and Queensgate, which include building up to 7 storeys on part of the Queensgate site, not 6 as the mayor states, bring a Claremont Quarter style large box development to the heart of Fremantle which is foreign to and damaging of the heritage of the area.

8. The King’s Square Business Plan has so far failed to keep Myer and revitalise the city centre as proposed and the ratepayer is subsidising the developer Sirona, so the plan should not be extended but let lapse so that further negotiations can take place that do not keep having the ratepayer subsidising the developer.

9. There is no urgency to extend the plan yet again, because the extensions are simply more financial loss for the ratepayer and if the refusal to extend by Council triggers the purchase of the property by Sirona at least the $29 million will be available sooner rather than later.

10. If the plan is not extended but let lapse, council is in a position of strength to renegotiate a new deal which might exclude the necessity for example of Sirona building the administration building, a project the ratepayers cannot afford and which will do little to revitalise King’s Square except further damage the value of the civic square. Have the councillors satisfied themselves there are enough funds available to ensure a new administration building of the promised excellence, which has already gone up from $45 million cost to an estimate a couple of years ago of $52 million?

Besides commissioning a licensed practising valuer we commissioned a report on King’s Square which was part of our submission to the Premier when we met with him last week. They are attached.

(copies of those presentations can be obtained by writing to the Fremantle Society. We also presented a 37 page report to the Premier when we met him last week).

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

24 April, 2016

 

ps  The photograph below shows the Claremont Quarter type box that will dominate the heritage civic centre of Fremantle, and the new administration building for the mayor, councillors, and staff to replace their existing one, which will further reduce King’s Square to King’s Triangle.

Real Estate - KS Fund 5

Development at Any Cost?

 

 The Fremantle Society want King’s Square area redeveloped but not at any cost.

REMINDER: IMPORTANT PUBLIC MEETING

Wednesday 20 April, 2016 at 7pm.

Notre Dame Uni cnr Croke and Cliff Street

 ‘$220 million’ King’s Square Business Plan

FREMANTLE COUNCIL REFUSE TO DISCLOSE KEY INFORMATION RELATED TO KING’S SQUARE RE-DEVELOPMENT PLAN

The plan, the largest in the City’s history and already delayed by several years, is due to be extended despite key financial questions from City ratepayers remaining unanswered. 

 Fremantle City Council are withholding financial information which may reveal that the major city centre re-development will result in close to a $50,000,000 erosion of Fremantle’s ratepayers asset base, rather than the gain claimed by Council. Fremantle ratepayers believe they have a right to know how their Council is spending their funds.

The city’s former Mayor, Peter Tagliafferi, has likened council’s actions to a    ‘…return of WA Inc’. He has described the project as “Crazy”, and “a disaster waiting to happen”.

The Fremantle Society (FS), in collaboration with the Fremantle Inner City Residents’ Association (FICRA) and Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association (FRRA), are holding a public meeting on Wednesday 20 April at Notre Dame University in Fremantle. At that meeting, presentations including information from a professional review by a licensed valuer of key assumptions, commissioned by the FS, will reveal the King’s Square Business Plan (a joint project by the City and developers Sirona), is not financially viable.

As part of the plan, the City’s Councillors have voted to sell property to co-developers Sirona at well below market prices, which will result in a financial burden that can only be recovered by large rate increases. The council have refused to hand over their financial assessment after many requests and the Fremantle Society and FRRA and FICRA are seeking an investigation into the financial assumptions of the plan.

backLeafmondday10.00

Smoke and Mirrors- Why Your Money is Going Up in Smoke

002_Aerial Overview of Development Looking East

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ratepayer assets built up over generations are in grave danger of being squandered by the King’s Square Business Plan. If it proceeds it will erode ratepayers’ asset base by close to $50 million.

The Fremantle Society in conjunction with FICRA (Fremantle Inner City Residents’ Association) has called a public meeting next Wednesday April 20th at Notre Dame to explain this. Both organisations, along with FRRA (Fremantle Ratepayers and Residents’ Association) have long held serious concerns about the financial validity of the plan but have been refused access to key documents since October 2014.

In 2012 the City of Fremantle signed the King’s Square Business Plan with developer Sirona Capital to revitalise Fremantle and keep Myer in town.

The plan has done neither.

The plan was promoted in council ads as ‘the most anticipated urban renewal program in Fremantle’s history’ (Herald 20/11/12). Three weeks later former mayor Peter Tagliaferri warned ‘This would be financial suicide if the city embarked down this path’(Herald 15/12/12).

The agreement between the City of Fremantle and Sirona expires on May 10. The agreement has already been extended once at the CEO’s discretion, and it is likely it will be extended again at this month’s council meeting on 27th.  It should not be.

The Fremantle Society has secured independent advice regarding the assumptions that the City of Fremantle has hidden behind to fabricate its artificial positive NPV for this project.  Amongst other things, the advice confirms “it is unbelievable to think that someone could or would state that a building (not building and land) would appreciate over a 20 year period.”

The independent advice obtained from the licensed practising valuer states that:

“1)    The residual valuation of the buildings in year 20 can not be reasonable and is not a sound assumption for this Kings Square Project (KSP).

2)    The 20 year future estimate  at $97.5 Million for buildings which cost $47.44 Million today is absurd.”

Without this assumption, the Kings Square Business Plan financial analysis collapses from a slightly positive NPV to a $30 million loss to ratepayers.

To fund this project, the Council is intending to sell approximately $50 million of property to Sirona for just $29 million. The losses on the sale of valuable City of Fremantle property assets are not factored into the Council’s analysis. Combine the two, and this project creates a black hole that erodes close to $50 million of ratepayer value.

The Business Plan is a pure fabrication of figures to mislead ratepayers, and those responsible must be held to account.

Peter Tagliaferri again broke cover last year  (Herald 29/5/15) to warn that the council’s plans for King’s Square were: ‘crazy, seriously,’ and a ‘disaster waiting to happen.’

While it is an exciting prospect that the Department of Housing may finally be making a decision to come to Fremantle, the project should not destroy ratepayer assets in the process and damage King’s Square by building a new administrative building there and turning the square into a claustrophobic triangle surrounded by large buildings. There are other locations for the mayor, councillors, and staff.

Only ten years ago council spent $50,000 examining, through the Urban Design Centre, the best outcomes for King’s Square.  Their report concluded that Fremantle deserved: “a true urban square- of appropriate size and dignity to anchor the heart of Fremantle ….this is the concept that speaks to the City’s confidence in its future….and refuses to bow to the short term exigencies of a conservative marketplace. It celebrates the original structure of the space.”

The Fremantle Society will present its vision next week, one that emphasises the prime importance of King’s Square – opening it up by removing the aged administration building,  relocating staff into a refurbished Queensgate Centre, and avoiding the unacceptable risk to ratepayer assets.

We need to learn from previous council projects at the Queensgate Centre and Westgate Mall which were financial disasters. The King’s Square Business Plan is much larger and financially riskier, and it is time for councillors to listen to the people they represent.