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Major projects to enhance East Perth enclave

Architect's rendering of the Perth Girls School heritage precinct
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ADC_ and Warburton Group are planning to create a new commercial and residential centre for East Perth. Image: ADC_

Major projects to enhance East Perth enclave

A new round of heritage renewals and major developments promises to deliver unprecedented amenity to the doorstep of Perth’s CBD, enhancing East Perth as a residential and investment destination.

A new round of heritage renewals and major developments promises to deliver unprecedented amenity to the doorstep of Perth’s CBD, enhancing East Perth as a residential and investment destination.

The newest project to emerge is a $400 million redevelopment of the historic Perth Girls School and surrounding land, with the 1930s-built former school to become the showpiece of a new commercial and residential precinct to be delivered by Australian Development Capital and the Warburton Group.

ADC_ and Warburton Group acquired the site, which is located on the second-most elevated point in the City of Perth, in 2017, and since then has worked closely with state government agency DevelopmentWA, the City of Perth and the Heritage Council of WA to develop new design guidelines.

Under those guidelines, ADC_ and Warburton Group plan to refurbish the heritage buildings to become a new cultural and hospitality precinct, while six towers with the potential to deliver up to 600 apartments, hotel and commercial units will be built on the surrounding plot. 

Building heights will range from 15 to 35 storeys, with the developers still finalising the mix of apartments, hotel rooms, aged care facilities, build-to-rent dwellings and commercial space, subject to market demand.

A full-range supermarket and retail precinct will also be included in the redevelopment, bringing much needed amenity to East Perth residents.

ADC_ director Rod Hamersley told Australian Property Investor Magazine that the heritage aspects of the site were one of its key attractors.

Since acquiring the Perth Girls School in 2017, ADC_ had engaged cultural organisation Artrage, which runs Perth’s popular Fringe World Festival, to activate the site.

“The heritage is obviously a great point of difference, and as a group we are very much attracted to heritage assets, that’s something that’s been a consistent theme with a few of our projects,” Mr Hamersley said.

“It gives us an opportunity to express some of the history of the location, which will differentiate our product from others, but in the case of the Perth Girls School, it’s a magnificent state asset and it’s in very good condition, compared to some heritage assets around Perth. 

“It was occupied up until 2015 and when we purchased the property, because of its condition we were able to insert the Artrage and Fringe concept there quite easily and accommodate it.”

In the latest iteration of Fringe World, more than 35,000 tickets were sold to shows at the Perth Girls School.

Mr Hamersley said Artrage’s activation of the site gave the developers confidence it could become a significant cultural and entertainment asset, not only for the future residents of the site, but for those living around Perth, as well as international and interstate tourists.

“That will give it strong character and we hope to capitalise on the work that Artrage have done to date, which has been fantastic to keep live entertainment recurring at the site.

“We’ll couple that with complementary uses such as food and beverage, a small bar and a food offering, then artists studios and some co-working space that would marry well with an arts precinct. 

“It has a lot of flexibility in it, the heritage building is over 5,000 square metres and it's something that will be celebrated as part of the development.”

Mr Hamersley said another important factor in attracting ADC_ and Warburton Group to the precinct was its proximity to some of Perth’s key cultural infrastructure, with the 60,000 seat Optus Stadium less than a two kilometre walk away, across Matagarup Bridge.

Also in close proximity is the East Perth Power Station, another heritage building which will soon be redeveloped by a joint venture between billionaires Andrew Forrest and Kerry Stokes.

Mr Forrest’s Tattarang (formerly Minderoo Group) and Mr Stokes’ Australian Capital Equity were earlier this year announced as the preferred proponents to redevelop the power station, which has been idle since the early 1980s.

The East Perth Power Station is located on a prime plot of land fronting the Swan River, with plans in motion to create a mix of residential, commercial, recreational and tourism opportunities into the neglected area.

In a nod to the cultural significance of the site, the developers will name the project Koomba Kalark, translating to ‘place of the big fire’ in the language of traditional owners, the Whadjuk Noongar people.

Around $218 million is expected to be invested in the first stage of the project, which has been designed by Kerry Hill Architects.

The WA state government will pitch in $50 million to decommission the old power generation infrastructure on site.

Also nearby, Perth’s leading apartments developer, ASX-listed Finbar Group, recently received development approval for a key Adelaide Terrace site.

Finbar is planning to build a 32-storey apartment tower at 240 Adelaide Terrace, providing 119 new apartments with an end value of around $92 million.

The project is Finbar’s 23rd development in the City of Perth over the past 15 years, and follows the recent completion of the company’s nearby Vue Tower, also located on Adelaide Terrace.

Finbar managing director Darren Pateman said while the past few months had been challenging for many developers having to deal with the economic uncertainty that came with the COVID-19 crisis, he remained confident that WA’s property sector was moving into a recovery phase.

“We remain cautiously optimistic about a gradual recovery to the confidence levels we were seeing pre-COVID-19 and that the recent government stimulus measures will lift buyer confidence and drive WA out of an unremarkable five years for the property sector,” Mr Pateman said.

“The development of 240 Adelaide Terrace, along with our other planned projects, will provide tens of millions of dollars in economic stimulus to the WA economy at a time when it is sorely needed and provide Western Australians with hundreds of jobs both directly and indirectly during the construction process and beyond.”

Finbar is developing 240 Adelaide Terrace in joint venture with Singaporean-owned Ventrade Australia, and expects to start construction in January 2021.

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