Kings Square Freo attracts eager bids

The West Australian

17th May 2017.

The developer of the $270 million Kings Square Fremantle revitalisation project, Sirona Capital, has appointed CBRE to advise on unsolicited bids from Australian and offshore institutional investors.

And yesterday Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly said the developer had appointed top-tier builder Probuild for an August construction start and was focused on delivering, not just for the State Government but for the City of Fremantle.

“We have been approached by a number of Australian and global investors who have expressed an interest,” he told The West Australian.

“That’s not surprising given the institutional nature of the assets and the 15-year government lease that’s underpinning the development. So rather than deal with that, we have appointed CBRE to advise on the long-term ownership and funding options.”

Mr McNeilly said a sale was not a foregone conclusion and Sirona was committed to delivering the project by mid-2019.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt has said a recent wave of new development, including the Kings Square overhaul — a central plank of the City of Fremantle’s revival — would deliver the City an estimated $5 million a year in future recurring rate revenue.

Mr Pettitt said before the Kings Square development there were fears the city was on an unsustainable economic trajectory.

However, the council’s financial modelling had shown its contribution — $50 million for a new library, civic and administration building — would be repaid within 10 years.

Mr McNeilly has previously described the Kings Square project as a catalyst for returning Fremantle to a seven-day-aweek economy.

“It’s an opportunity to transform the rundown CBD area of Fremantle,” he said this week. “In reality this is all about tourism, arts, culture which already exist in Fremantle.”

The WA Government will lease 17,200sqm of the 20,000sqm of office, moving workers from the Housing Authority and departments of Corrective Services and Transport to Fremantle in 2020.

The 25,800sqm project includes redeveloping the former Myer building and a new building. Offices will be above a
retail and entertainment precinct, including a cinema, and the 800-bay Queensgate carpark will get an overhaul.

Mr Pettitt said committing to the Kings Square project in 2013 had renewed investor confidence and been a big contributor to the “$1.3 billion development boom we now see in Fremantle”.

When asked whether the project had one of the longest gestation periods in recent living memory, Mr McNeilly said he liked to recall the Treasury Buildings, a project WA developer Adrian Fini started work on 20 years ago.

“Hopefully we are at the beginning of a very long upcycle,” he said.

Probuild WA managing director Sam Delmenico said the company was delighted to work with Sirona to get value driven outcomes in the crucial planning phase.