Vern Hiddlestone said he bought various retail properties on Rokeby Road decades ago to help ‘protect and preserve their history for future generations’.
He said it had been easy to find and maintain tenants in the past but the recent economic decline had taken its toll on Subiaco’s high street.
‘What I’ve always reckoned is ‘build it and they will come’, but lately there has been quite a bit of trouble holding things back,’ he said.
‘I decided to drum up some confidence by giving my new tenants four months free rent, a very long lease and only 1.5 per cent rent increase annually for the next four years.
‘It has cost me a lot of money, but it is a sacrifice I needed to make.’
Mr Hiddlestone said he could not stand walking past the empty shops as they gathered dust.
‘I know the landlords have people interested in their shops, but the problem is they are standing up on their haunches and refusing to budge on price,’ he said.
‘They are paying all the rates while their tenants have up and gone. It does not make sense.’
Mr Hiddlestone said he and his sister Beryl Goodfield were pleased to see their new tenant Paris Crepes Cafe open at 85 Rokeby Road last weekend.
‘You have got to lift the vibe and encourage people to come to Subi, so my plan for this building was to bring in something new,’ he said.
‘I applied to the City of Subiaco to change the licence from a shop to a restaurant and now people can come here for a nice light meal and sit on the lounges. It’s going to be a hit.’
Mr Hiddlestone said he had seen two bad recessions come and go in his lifetime and was confident Subiaco would be back to its prime in about four years.
‘There is no place in WA that comes close (to Subiaco),’ he said.
‘My family came here in 1897 ” I was born in the hospital, educated at the school down the road and have lived and worked all 74 years of my life in Subiaco. This is my city. You should believe me when I say Subiaco is coming back.’