Kings Square breakthrough

Fremantle Herald

6th August 2016.

SIRONA CAPITAL has been given the green light to negotiate with WA’s finance department over moving a state government department to Kings Square.

Finance minister Bill Marmion’s office confirmed to the Herald on Thursday afternoon the department had been told to move to the next stage of the process and enter commercial negotiations with the successful bidder.

While the minister’s office didn’t name the successful bidder, there were only two and Silverleaf Investments boss Gerard O’Brien told the Herald he’d just received his letter telling him his bid had failed.

Softening market

The minister’s office said the negotiations would determine whether the move could deliver value for money.

“Changes in the state’s financial position and softening of the Perth property market have made it even more crucial that the decisions around decentralisation reflect value for money outcomes and deliver long-term benefits for our growing state,” it’s statement said.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said while the council wasn’t privy to the decision, as it hadn’t been an official part of the procurement process, confirmation of a preferred proponent added to his confidence the project would go ahead.

“We are really excited that there has been a decision to proceed to the next stage of the government accommodation process which we understand is to enter into commercial negotiations with the preferred proponent,” Dr Pettitt said.

“This is probably the most important project for Fremantle’s economic future, so if a decision is imminent then we look forward to the government confirming it.

“Given the soft office market and other challenges, I think the state government needs to be commended for continuing with the process of moving a government department to Fremantle and supporting the revitalisation of Fremantle in this way.”

Mr O’Brien said while he was disappointed Silverleaf’s bid was unsuccessful, he was pleased that someone in Fremantle had won.

“It’s pretty difficult for an individual to compete against a local government and the power of ratepayers,” Mr O’Brien said.

“But there is no doubt that this should happen and absolutely the council should have done this, as Fremantle definitely needs more people working and living in the centre.”

He’d worked out the 20,000sqm of office space the government was after equated to about 1300 workers, which could mean more than just Housing moving to Freo.

“Thirteen hundred people will make a massive impact on the CBD.”

Mr O’Brien said despite the setback, his redevelopment of the Woolstores Shopping Centre will still go ahead.

“We were always going to do it in two stages, so we’ll go ahead with stage 1 and stage 2 might happen at some other time.”

Negotiations are due to conclude by the end of the year.