A multi-million dollar redevelopment is set to breathe new life into WA’s port city with the site between the Queensgate car park and Fremantle Oval earmarked for a six-storey hotel, pedestrian spaces and a range of boutique businesses in the old warders’ cottages.
The first major milestone has been achieved with a liquor licence granted for a restaurant, bar and alfresco area in the two original heritage-listed courtroom buildings on Henderson Street, after a decade of them sitting idle.
To be known as the Old Courthouse Fremantle, the buildings – originally constructed in 1899 – will undergo a $5 million restoration.
It’s the brainchild of Karl Bullers, co-owner of the award-winning National Hotel, who has enlisted Slavin Architects to bring the venue to life.
The company has been responsible for refurbishing the Fremantle Arts Centre, Victoria Hall, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre and Gwalia State Hotel, among many others, and has received several heritage and architecture awards and nominations.
“Heritage restoration of the buildings is a big job and important to the fabric of Fremantle,” Mr Bullers said.
“There is a lot of work ahead in bringing these significant old buildings back to life.
“Our plans include maintaining the immense feeling of space created by the 6m ceilings in the courtrooms.
“One will be developed into a bar, leading out to a newly built 450-person glass pavilion and garden area.
“For the second courtroom, we are planning a new 100-person restaurant and looking to provide something a little different for Fremantle.”
Mr Bullers described the project as being part of the “new centre of Freo”.
“This area of Fremantle is really changing with Freo Social and the Old Synagogue nearby, close to the Fremantle Markets and Fremantle Prison,” he said.
“The hub is extremely attractive to families and we are hoping to develop some great events and activities each year.
“There are some large tree-covered open spaces and the overall development will ultimately feature beautiful walkways between the hotel and boutique businesses that will eventually take up residency in the cottages.
“With the current uncertainty the completion date is likely to be in 2021, although we’re unable to be more specific at this stage.”
Development images and updates will be posted at www.oldcourthouse.com.au, facebook.com/oldcourthousefremantle and instagram.com/oldcourthousefremantle for people wanting to see how the project is progressing.
“People will be able to connect with us online and track the journey as this heritage site blossoms into a spectacular new hospitality venue, waiting to welcome the people of Perth,” Mr Bullers said.
old courthouse-new: An artist’s impression of how the restaurant, bar and alfresco area may look.
karl-inside1-2: Karl Bullers inside the interior of the courtroom buildings as they are now.
karl-outside: National Hotel co-owner Karl Bullers is converting Fremantle’s old courtroom buildings into a restaurant, bar and alfresco area.
ATTACHED: Slavin Architects company profile.