Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Posts Tagged ‘Planning’

Can free rent for artists make the city cool?

Posted by occidentprone on July 30, 2008

There’s a plan afoot to turn dead retail space in the dead heart of dead Perth city into artists’ garrets.

The West Australian‘s paper edition today – but AGAIN not the website – reports property groups such as Hawaiian are making upstairs spaces in the Carillon and the Hay and Murray street malls available at low rent or even no rent to artists. Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi says the landlords are “good corporate citizens”.

More than 90 artists are on a waiting list for city studio space.

Can a place be made cool like this? Can a bohemian vibe be manufactured in this way by the city council?

I don’t see why not. Artists’ ghettoes have long been in places that were dead to the more materially minded and Perth city is in need of resuscitation. And by jewellers and painters and artisans moving in, paradoxically, it becomes cool again.

In a post a few months back I looked at some criteria for making a place desirable but outside the obvious shopping-cafe precinct kind of way. Free rent is another way to draw life back in.

Posted in Diversions, Perth | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Garden of Eden Hill withers

Posted by occidentprone on May 21, 2008

While on the subject of planning and potential, what is – or isn’t – going on in Eden Hill? The multicoloured monstrosity on Morley Drive that once was a supermarket and now is God’s house – or God’s outdoor dunny at least – is a disgrace that makes a lie of the government’s claim to be cleaning up next door Lockridge. Until recently it was a mauve abomination but only a little purple survives. It’s now a deep blue and apricot job with the only violet to survive around the gutters.

Along with the abandoned Noongar camp in Caversham and the old demolished Pyrton prison site, both on the river, and nearby Rangeview Tavern, the Eden Hill Family Church is a joke. We’re not sure of attendance numbers or even gate takings in the new op shop there but the sprawling carpark only ever has a couple of cars tops. The nearby Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Lockridge is filled to the rafters every weekend so it’s not like the sheep are not willing.

The Rangeview and the concrete offering to the heavens have been made infamous by The Worst of Perth. But the Bassendean Town Council says its hands are tied. Mayor Tina Klein says:

Minister MacTiernan advised Council that housing was unacceptable and that the site should remain commercial but only for local area needs and not for any district or regional commercial activity. Back to square one.

Council is now talking to the owners to see what can be done to get the site redeveloped. Talks will include any assistance that Council can give and Council has not ruled out looking at the potential of using the site as a marketplace.

There are a couple of problems here. Housing is not what the area needs. It needs facilities, attractions, shops. If the state government was serious about revitalising Lockridge and stripping away old stigmas, it would not exclude sizeable ‘activity’. 

Markets would be a good start. Apparently a party from the burnt down Midland Military markets expressed an interest but was turned away. Farmers markets would be ideal, the kind that doesn’t sell food but p-r-o-d-u-c-e. And no hustlers offloading cheap imported plastic junk. But maybe the demographic isn’t ready for $10 jars of chutney or certified organic radicchio just yet. Interest rates and eye-popping petrol prices hit hard in this part of the world. 

Mayor Tina says she’s hamstrung – oh woe is us – but a local website says she stymied any steps forward. Oh woe is Eden Hill.


Posted in Diversions, Perth | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Dance with the Muses in Northbridge

Posted by occidentprone on May 21, 2008

Plans for a microbrewery and piazza in Northbridge have been getting some press but is the proposal enough to get Northbridge back in our social good graces? 

The City of Perth says work on the piazza will start next month.

Well-considered design features and uses in and around the piazza will ensure its vitality, comfort and safety: As well as providing for everyday informal activity, the flexibly designed spaces allow for performances, festivals and other cultural and even sporting events.  A large grassed area, for example, could host anything from cricket matches to markets. Al fresco dining from surrounding cafes and restaurants will spill into the space, adding on-going life to the piazza. Perth’s first permanent LED screen is expected to be a major attraction, operating 24 hours a day.

As only local government can do, they’ve made it sound sterile and without spontaneity but we still hold out hope.

Northbridge’s history has been up and down, trendy and ugly, ethnic ghetto and mainstream, drunken dark corner and sunny family spot. It is in a bit of a lull at the moment (although the media stories about louts and violence seem to have waned).

But after walking through both Northbridge and Perth city centre in daytime in recent weeks, at least Northbridge has a soul that can be revived. There is life in pockets of small shops, cafes and boutiques. Art galleries and art supply stores will draw that recently recognised commodity – the creative class.

Scoff if you want, but in these days – and this state – of flowing wealth successful baby boomers and X-ers are prepared to spend to buy soul back into their overworked lives. Watercolour painting on the side, weekend writing or joinery or cake decorating courses, thousands dropped with ease at the Fender store. And not with an eye on glory (well, maybe) but with an eye to filling the void, creating something.

So business gurus and planners, don’t underestimate how much people like to hang out with the Muses in dark corners, feeding their inner boho with inspiration – and spending large while they’re at it. That lust for life can’t be built into a structure, it’s a vibe and it’s made by people.

 Now what are they doing about Forrest Place and the Hay Street Mall – what a mess.


Posted in Diversions, Perth | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »