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My My Myer

August 1, 1972 Myer Opens in King's Square

(above- Myer as it could have been 2011)

Exactly 50 years ago today, Myer opened in King's Square.

Its huge bulk and scale and ugliness had, along with the 6 storey car park behind it, wiped out the scale and character of historic Fremantle.

For a couple of decades it was an integral part of the shopping core of Fremantle, though competition from Booragoon and Claremont Quarter, and a decline in Fremantle's attractiveness as a shopping hub, led  to concerns that the underperforming Myer store might close. This led council to try and not only keep Myer in town, but rejuvenate the area.

The picture above is from 2011 and is a reimagining of the brutal white Myer box, to make it more friendly and appealing.

The Sydney Morning Herald  (August 8, 2011) stated of the reimagining above: 

Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly said while it was still early days, he wanted to see mid to high-end retailers join the centre.

He had no doubt it could compete against Claremont Quarter and Garden City Shopping Centre in Booragoon.

"A lot of people live in that neck of the woods [and] there's a bourgeoning population south of the city [of Fremantle], as well. We'd be attracting people from there," Mr McNeilly said.

"I look at Fremantle and it's long overdue for a make-over. I suspect that largely what's holding the place back is some willingness to spend some money down there.

"The council is supportive of developing a new vision for the area and we as a developer/financier are prepared to back that vision and help realise it."

Mr Pettit said the Myer building make-over would be the catalyst for the city's rejuvenation.

"I hope it will really start the rejuvenation of retail in Fremantle as an eclectic centre," he said.

"It's looking a bit tired and rundown and in need of a face lift. This will start it off."

This was the genesis for the highly controversial King's Square Business Plan, a key proviso of which was that council had to convince Myer to stay in Fremantle.

Council, under Mayor Pettitt, failed to keep Myer in Fremantle. Salvation came in the form of three Liberal politicians, Barnett, Marmion, and Jacob, who successfully advocated to Cabinet that a government department should be relocated to Fremantle.

While those government workers now have our prime real estate to work from, though many currently choose  to work from home, the public only have access to the site on the ground floor and basement where an uninspiring raft of offerings is in no danger of competing with Claremont Quarter, and certainly not Napoleon Street, Cottesloe, where the Vans site has just sold for a record sum of $12,630 per square metre in what the agent described as "The best performing neighbourhood retail strip in Perth."

The tragedy for investors in CBD Fremantle is that for those who have survived the King's Square Business Plan and council's way of doing "revitalisation", they have often lost money on their investment while other areas have boomed.

Council last week repeated their error with the selling of the Spicer site too cheaply to Sirona, by allowing  the sale of the Point Street site to Sirona, when they could have taken it back for $10 million, less than the 2007 valuation of the 5012 square metres site, valued way back then for $10.5 million.

Still, the good citizens of fremantle can now in 2022, 50 years after the arrival of retail giant Myer, visit the former Myer site for a few modest current retail options, safe at least in the knowledge they are guarded by 400 security cameras.


John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
August 1, 2022




 

 

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