Hesperia acquires Fremantle Wool Stores site to extend town centre
The historic Woolstores in Fremantle are set for a new lease on life, with a heritage redevelopment that aims to extend the town centre.
Hesperia has acquired the site from one of the richest women in WA of the now-unoccupied Elders Woolstores, which were first built in 1908.
The $6.85 million purchase from former Esplanade Hotel owner Marylyn New covers about 20,000sqm of floor space on Cantonment Street and Elder Place.
The heritage-listed site contained various residences including brick terrace houses, a stone residence and stables but has remained relatively unused for about half a century.
Construction on the current facade started in 1927 in the Federation Warehouse Style and seen additions in the post-war period.
As the local wool industry declined, the buildings - primarily brick with jarrah and steel columns - have become largely unoccupied since the 1970.
It has become a stomping ground for local artists who have used the structure as a canvas, as well as for skaters.
Off the back of heritage developments at the State Buildings in Perth and COMO The Treasury, Hesperia director Kyle Jeavons said the company would go through a year-long design and approval stage, including a range of architects and Fremantle design teams.
Mr Jeavons said the company did not want to “spread out” the town centre and wasn’t aiming to replicate a cafe and restaurant strip as exists in Fremantle’s west-end.
“It will complement, rather than compete, with the existing centre,” he said.
“We’re in the early days but due to the scale of the space, it is likely to include a range of uses such as office space and retail, as well as a diverse housing stock.”
Mr Jeavons said the buildings would play a “critical part” in extending activity in Fremantle towards Victoria Quay and to ensure the hospitality precinct had a sustainable residential base.
He estimated works could be complete around 2025, with hopes the construction market may have cooled by the time building commences.
The heritage interpterion will retain the existing structure and pay tribute to its past, but also to the arts and skating communities that make use of the warehouses today.
“The building is an important part of Fremantle’s identity. As an empty building it has gathered its own life with a strong arts component. It’s also become a skating hotspot,” Mr Jeavons said.
“That is part of the story to consider as we reuse and reinterpret the space from a cultural perspective.”
In addition to private retail space, the ground floor is expected to be open for the public.
“Longer term it will become a desirable place to live or work or to do both,” Mr Jeavons said.
“It will offer diverse housing choice from smaller homes to larger terraced homes. That diversity in housing stock is something that Fremantle currently lacks.
“This redevelopment will reinvigorate an area of Fremantle that has remained largely inactive since the 1970s.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to restore, sensitively adapt and interpret this piece of rich industrial history, whilst preserving the heritage fabric of Fremantle.”
Griffiths Architects have been hired as specialist consultants to provide heritage advice on the project.
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