Perth’s award-winning property developer Adrian Fini is leading an ambitious streetscape revival of the east side of Perth’s CBD.
The Historic Heart project, to reinvigorate the CBD blocks between Barrack Street and the Perth Mint, is perfectly timed to capitalise on the extra pedestrian traffic expected to be generated by the Perth Stadium opening early next year.
At its centre is the $500 million Westin Hotel at 480 Hay Street, expected to greatly improve the amenity of an area populated with heritage buildings but lacking in appeal.
Historic Heart, chaired by Mr Fini, has secured $250,000 in State Government funding and $250,000 from private stakeholders and last week lodged plans for a public art and streetscape program with the City of Perth.
The first move includes up to 100 planters painted by WA artists and planted with wildflowers as well as murals by contemporary concrete artists on laneway walls.
The planters, to be built by East Perth industrial design firm Respoke, will be overseen by gardening guru Sabrina Hahn and the artists’ murals will be co-ordinated by art curator Margaret Moore.
Mr Fini, who spearheaded the successful 20-year push to revamp the State Buildings and Cathedral Square has been concerned about the eastern end being “drained of vitality”.
Historic Heart project manager Sandy Anghie said vacant buildings and inactive lanes created spaces for antisocial behaviour, contributing to a perception that an area was unsafe. That discouraged visitors, which in turn shut down small businesses, creating further vacancy.
“At the moment you see quite a lot of unloved space,” Ms Anghie said. “If we could create walks and trails we could reactivate the area and support small businesses along the way.”
There was a real opportunity to capitalise on the 77,000 people visiting the Perth Mint each year, she said. “The planter boxes and the murals are a perfect canvas for the artwork, and the landscaping and mural artworks send a clear signal the east end is changing,” Ms Anghie said.
“The idea is that when people cross Barrack Street they get a sense something is happening and they feel compelled to explore Perth’s east end.”
The Historic Heart project has secured the backing of stakeholders as diverse as the State Government, the City of Perth, church and community groups, Pier Street building owners, Equus, BGC Constructions, Tourism WA, the Heritage Council, the National Trust and Royal Perth Hospital. It aims to create a safe, thriving destination for residents and tourists, with curated walks and trails linking heritage-listed buildings and mini-museums, the cathedrals, hotels, green spaces and restaurants, cafes, shops and pubs.
It will likely have a dramatic impact on Murray, Hay and Pier streets between the six-star Treasury COMO, the City of Perth Library and BGC Constructions’ five-star Westin Hotel and surrounding Hibernian Place, opening in April.
The Historic Heart is home to 16 hotels and is already an important pedestrian link for tourists moving between hotels to St Georges Terrace, Elizabeth Quay and the Perth Cultural Centre in Northbridge and soon, to Perth Stadium.
Historic Heart will launch its streetscape scheme on Heritage Perth open day weekend on October 14-15.
Property Council WA’s recently released Big and Small Ideas for Perth included a strategy to create a city of neighbourhoods.
“As it stands today, inner city Perth is geographically vast. There are big experiences to be had at Kings Park, Perth Arena and Elizabeth Quay but at a neighbourhood level, we need to give people more to discover — local streets, businesses and places,” the Property Council said.
Lease Equity’s Jim Tsagalis said the carefully curated 24-hour retail, food, drink and entertainment spaces at Hibernian Place, at the base of the Westin, would have friendly atmosphere and provide a welcome downtime area for shiftworkers at Royal Perth Hospital.
- Helen Sheild
The West Australian