The Election Season Final Act

Fremantle Architect Shows Quality is Possible

Quality is Possible

Hilton architect Don Zivkovic lives and works in skyscraper city New York, and this is some of his award winning work in the heart of that City.

Don has accepted an invitation from the Fremantle Society to give a presentation of his ideas when he next visits Fremantle. He will be too late to save much of Fremantle’s heritage character, but his ideas will make a good Thinking Allowed column in the Herald for the faithful few who still read such things.

Car Parks Not Needed?

Fremantle Council is selling yet another car park (corner of Josephson and High Streets -see next article) and you can buy it, and stick a 21 metre high building on the site to overshadow the little gem – Victoria Hall – across the way.

Fremantle Council’s advanced thinking is that driverless cars and driverless bicycles will soon replace the need for any parking spaces. The progressive Fremantle Council is years ahead of other councils who still believe that business needs support, and that car parks are strategically located in order to assist customers of those businesses.

Progressive Investigation Needed

There are a lot of people wanting Fremantle to be progressive. But you need money for that. An investigation is needed into the questionable property dealings of Fremantle Council so that we can get better value with our money. Since Dr Pettitt was elected as mayor 8 years ago, the council’s property portfolio has fallen in value from $57 million to $23 million.

The two most recent worrying examples are:

a) New Fremantle Depot Site: Council paid $7.8 million in 2014 for the contaminated site which the previous owner bought just 9 years earlier for $1.88 million. In the three years since 2014, the property, worth $640,000 a year in rent, has lain empty, losing ratepayers a possible $2 million in revenue.

b) Josephson Street Car Park: Adding to the sale of Queensgate Car Park, Point Street Car Park, Spicer Site Car Park, Bannister Street Car Park, and Phillimore Street Weighbridge Car Park, now comes the sale of the Josephson Street Car Park. The sale of so many car parks is alarming enough, but the conditions of sale, which include that the new owner must lease back the car park to the council until at least 2020 at $1 a year, mean that the price realised for the site will be much less than if it was sold as vacant possession. In fact, condition 2 ( As a condition of sale of the Property the Buyer must grant to the Seller an option to lease the Property (Option to Lease) for use as a car park for a peppercorn rent ($1.00 per annum) until development of the Property is commenced) means that the owner must allow the council to continue leasing the site for $1 a year until it is built on.

These onerous conditions could lose ratepayers at least $1 million for the sale of their asset.

The loss to ratepayers on these two issues alone could be in excess of $3 million. As the mayor of one major city told The Fremantle Society: “If I screw up on financial issues, I will man up and accept the blame.” It is hoped Dr Pettitt will do the same.

It is time for an independent investigation of all ratepayer asset sales in the past 8 years.

Election – Final Act

The local elections are almost over and the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by council in publicising themselves in lavish advertisements and publications, will greatly help incumbents to be reelected.

Also helping incumbents are the ‘jobs for the boys (and girls)’ that the hangers on have received and are receiving for aligning themselves closely with the council.

The energetic Roe 8 protestors who moved from that issue to supporting the current Fremantle Council, do not seem to have transferred any interest from Roe 8 environmental issues to Fremantle ones. Otherwise they would have picked up on some of the unsustainable council projects (how much money was wasted with solar panels at the Leisure Centre?), the cut back in the number of trees being planted in Fremantle, the failure to seriously tackle the lack of tree canopy cover, the lack of any air quality monitoring in Fremantle, the unsatisfactory health of the great Moreton Bay fig trees in Kings Square and so on.

The False Accusation

During the election, it was put about that until Dr Pettitt arrived as mayor, ‘nothing happened’ and, in Dr Pettitt’s own words, ‘the previous council was ineffectual.’

These falsities overlook the many things that occurred prior to his 8 years, which in contrast to the current council, involved consensual and high quality decision making, and high quality outcomes, particularly in the area of heritage. Much of the good work done by previous councils has been undone by the current council.

The previous Fremantle Council Heritage Architect Agnieshka Kiera has kindly put together her recollections of what was achieved by previous councils from a largely heritage point of view. It is long, but worth reading, and stands as testimony against the false accusations of the election. See the previous post, below.

Small bar proposal at heritage-listed weighbridge station progresses

From Fremantle Council Minutes

Ordinary meeting of council, September 2016

Council has given conditional planning approval to progress the transformation of the heritage-listed weighbridge station into a small bar.

weigbridge-council-minutes

Following council approval of a 15 year lease of the Phillimore Street property in January 2015, works are now required to provide essential facilities such as toilets and seating in line with the heritage nature of the building.

Council has approved the application subject to final approval from other regulatory bodies, submission of waste and noise management plans and resolution of pedestrian safety concerns.

Background

The Weighbridge Station was historically used as an entrance to the Fremantle Ports where goods and containers were weighed prior to entry. The property is registered on the State Heritage Register and controlled by a management order giving the City power to lease or licence to a term no more than twenty one (21) years.

The premises were offered in an “as is” condition through the expression of interest advertisement. The scope was for groups, organisations, businesses or individuals to activate the building and take financial responsibility for all costs associated with restoration of the infrastructure, additional service requirements, planning approval and statutory requirements.

Cafe option

Subject to further approvals, the weighbridge will be transformed into a New York style small bar and café for no more than 75 patrons. Should the liquor licence not be successful the applicant will activate the premises as a café.

The Fremantle Society is closely interested in the restoration work intended for this unique building.