Kings Square Fremantle project: smaller, flexible retail spaces

The Australian

14th September 2017.

The future of retail space will be smaller and more flexible, according to the architect behind the retail component of a $270 million mixed-use project in Fremantle.

The disruption taking place in the retail sector and the specific needs of the community have formed the backdrop to the retail component of Sirona Capital’s Kings Square project, which will also house two office buildings, a multi-level carpark and community facilities such as a library.

The 5783sq m of retail and dining space are designed to be different to a glass box shopping centre and will include laneways, plenty of sound and colour and adaptable spaces used for different purposes during the day and evening.

Disruption in retail enables ­creative developments like this to occur, says architect HDR head of retail and mixed use Susanne Pini.

“One of the great things about disrupters and agitation to the status quo is it doesn’t allow players in the market to just replicate what’s being done,” Ms Pini said.

“Let’s face it, that’s the easy response.”

In the future, she expects to see “smaller spaces, more flexible terms, and I think this idea of wanting to allow the retailers to have a really strong voice”.

“Even very traditional retailers are more and more taking smaller spaces. They’re looking at their spaces and saying, ‘How can we get it to work harder financially?’”

Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly hopes the project will reflect the creative sensibilities of Fremantle.

Designed to be open and borderless rather than a traditional mall, he hopes the development will function as a collaboration with the retailers.

“You don’t get that in a shopping centre — what you get is landlords telling retailers what they’re going to do,” Mr McNeilly said.

There will be room for pop up shops and for changes in the evening — for example, space used as a hairdressing salon during the day could become performance space at night, he said.

Sirona Capital is also seeking an investor to help fund the development of the Kings Square Fremantle ­project and earlier this year tapped real estate agent CBRE for advice on finding a backer.