The City of Fremantle in Western Australia is set to embark on the biggest changes to its CBD since the 1987 Americas Cup, with the release of an ambitious new vision to reconnect the city with the harbour.
The transformation, announced by Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt, includes plans to redevelop Victoria Quay, implement a $220 million project that will change the city centre, and introduce a New York High Line-style bridge. These are detailed in the City’s FREO 2029 Transformational Moves document, which captures five key ‘transformational moves’ that will affirm Fremantle’s status “as WA’s undisputed second city”.
“Transformational Moves identifies the current challenges and opportunities in Fremantle and outlines the bold and decisive actions required to accommodate the city’s future needs,” said Mayor Pettitt.
“The projects are definitely ambitious, but we feel they are also very achievable with the appropriate level of cooperation and action from the state government, the private sector, and the broader community.”
Each ‘move’ focuses on a different location or aspect of Fremantle, such as its city centre, waterfront, northern gateway, and Fremantle Oval precinct, as well as its transport links and connectivity. Each also incorporates a number of place-based projects, including:
A $220 million Kings Square redevelopment to provide new civic chambers, library and offices for the City of Fremantle, 16,000sqm of retail space and 30,000sqm of high quality office space within the city centre. This major public-private partnership is likely to be the biggest single development project undertaken in Fremantle since the creation of its port.
Artist's impression of redeveloped Kings Square
A new public square outside the Fremantle Rail Station that will provide a welcoming civic entrance to the city, and the relocation of the bus interchange
Major redevelopment of Victoria Quay (above) to improve connections to the city centre, while realising activation and vibrancy opportunities at the ground level with 9,500sqm of retail, cafe and restaurant space, and the potential for 30,000sqm of much needed office space. All heritage buildings in this area will be retained and creatively re-used, with the gritty character of the working port maintained by keeping the rail tracks and their surrounds intact.
Expansion of Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour to enable a variety of new marine, entertainment and recreational uses to be developed within walking distance of the city centre and West End. These include new hotels, tourist and mooring facilities, and a return of the former swimming baths.
A new hybrid light rail system (faster than typical street-car trams, but not to the extent of a heavy rail service) that links Fremantle to surrounding areas. It is hoped the rail will catalyse development and ensure land use opportunities along the whole length of transit corridors meet their full potential.
Implementation of a connected, safe and seamless bicycle network by 2029
Replacing Queen Victoria Street Bridge with a new traffic bridge that is located further west. The existing heritage-listed iconic structure will be retained for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists, with potential to become a major public space with lookout areas, seating and community markets, not unlike New York’s famous High Line pedestrian/park walkway.
New high-density residential development on Queen Victoria Street within walkable distance from the CBD providing up to 1,850 dwellings.
Fremantle Oval Precinct
Commercial high quality affordable housing for seniors, key workers and/or students on the former Stan Reilly site.
Fremantle’s vision relies on projects that are yet to be approved, or to a certain extent are out of the city’s control, but Dr Pettitt says it is a realistic one.
"I'll be the first to admit I think Fremantle in the last 15 years . . . really has struggled, so this is about putting forward a way that we can really bring the vibrancy back to our commercial centre," he said, reports The West Australian.
"A lot of that is bringing thousands more people to live and work in Fremantle but also drawing on our strengths."