Vacancy rates low, confidence returns

Locki Ferris, Craig Muzeroll and Janna Somers.
Picture: Jon Hewson   d446037
Locki Ferris, Craig Muzeroll and Janna Somers. Picture: Jon Hewson d446037

Last February the Gazette reported Fremantle had 69 of its 641 business premises sitting empty at the end of 2014.

It was a statistic that had City of Fremantle economic development and marketing manager Tom Griffiths saying that although the vacancy rate of 10.8 per cent was not terrible compared to other similar areas, they would continue to push for a drop to 5 per cent.

According to Mr Griffiths, the most recent audit in December last year showed a “noticeable improvement” as the city edged closer to that goal, with 41 vacant retail premises counted at a vacancy rate of 6.4 per cent.

“The other noticeable difference from last year’s audit is fewer incidences of vacancy clusters whereby vacant premises are grouped closely together,” he said.

“Vacancy clusters identified earlier in 2015 included High Street Mall and Atwell Arcade, Wesley Quarter and Adelaide Plaza, all of which have shown improvement in the past 12 months.

“The City continues to receive inquiries from potential new businesses looking to set up in Freo with our economic development team acting as a liaison between investors and property owners, which is an ongoing business attraction service the City provides in an effort to support Fremantle’s revitalisation.

“Among other factors, the significant influx of CBD residents predicted over the next couple of years as residential developments come on line has provided confidence and opportunities to both existing and new businesses.”

Antz Inya Pantz Cafe is one of those new local businesses, with owner Craig Muzeroll saying their perception that Fremantle was “up and coming” led them to open their doors in October last year.

“There is an ‘I want to change’ feel about the place and that happy medium between humanity and business exists,” he said.

“An old business saying is that ‘a high tide floats all boats’ and I think the trend in Fremantle is that the tide is rising and so is business.”

His colleague Benn Rayner said they were in for the haul.