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Breathing new life into an East Fremantle icon


The Royal George

After lying dormant for many years, the Royal George Hotel will be returned to its former glory, allowing the community to once again enjoy this much-loved icon.

A faithful restoration of the original building is now underway and plans for the contrasting modern building have been submitted for Development Approval.

The application includes proposed new uses for the existing State heritage listed Hotel and an adjacent boutique apartment building. The new building will house 23 residential apartments.

Once complete the Royal George will be reinstated as the social heart of the historic George Street precinct.

Follow the restoration progress on Instagram.

Discover more about the vision behind the Royal George.

Watch our interview with the project’s lead architect, Michael Patroni of spaceagency.


How many storeys is the new concept?

The new concept is 9 storeys from the lowest point on Duke Street plus 2 basement levels. This fits within the 28-metre height limit stipulated by planning scheme amendment.

What is the material used on the exterior?

The defining material used for the new building is natural zinc. This is what was used for the cupula originally, but it had been painted over the years. The restored cupola and the new zinc can be seen on site at the moment and will be similar to that used on the new building. Some of the inspiration for the use of this material has also come from the many metal roofs in the area. The use of zinc cladding has allowed a striking continuous form to be created that is distinctly residential.

What is the cost of the development?

The Royal George Hotel will be a $25 million development. This will incorporate the restoration of the heritage building and fit out for the new uses that will occupy the space, along with the 23 new apartments adjacent.

What are some of the key features of the new design?

The design concept is based on an extension of the two wings of the former hotel, each with their own personality and scale. These are then brought together into a dramatic point at the northern end of the sharply triangular site. The use of zinc is driven by the materiality in the area and creates a striking continuous form that is distinctly residential. Recessed balconies and non-aligned windows create interest and ensure the building is far from generic.

How does the new design enhance the heritage building?

A clear distinction is made between the new and old parts of the development in accordance with best practice heritage design principals. Zinc was used for the cupola originally, so the use of this material for the exterior of the new building is a nod to, and extension of the past. The design of the new building also folds back to maintain views of the cupola from the north and west.

Will the apartments be sustainable?

The proposed apartments will aim to achieve a 5-Star Green Star rating as well as maintain an ongoing carbon neutral (climate active) certification. In addition, the deep recessed balconies will provide shading and double-glazing will reduce heat loading and the reverse in winter.

Is there still plans to upgrade the public space around the Hotel, including the underpass?

Whilst an upgrade to the public space is not part of this development application, we are in ongoing discussions with the Town of East Fremantle on ideas to improve parking in the area and undertake a minor upgrade to areas within the public realm, including Duke Street and the underpass.

The proposed central courtyard will also provide a protected, shaded environment that will become a natural extension to the George Street precinct.

Does the design adhere to the new planning guidelines?

Yes, the design complies with the planning scheme requirements.

How many storeys was the previous proposal? Why is this one smaller?

The previous concept proposed a slender 21-storey tower that was set back from the heritage building and Duke Street. The planning scheme guidelines were subsequently amended to limit the height of the building to 28 metres as measured from the lowest point of the site. This new height limit can accommodate a maximum of 9 storeys.

Is there any landscaping?

While there is limited space on the site, a substantial amount of landscaping is proposed including street trees and a podium level garden.


How many apartments will there be and what will be the selling price?

The Royal George Hotel will be a boutique development with 23 apartments in the new building. Apartment prices are not available as yet. However, the proposed design includes a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom premium apartments plus a 4-bedroom penthouse with roof terrace.

Will there be enough parking for residents and what amenity can be expected?

Yes, each apartment will have at least one parking bay with the majority of 2 and 3 bedroom apartments having two bays.

At ground level, there will be a central courtyard which is an extension of the public realm with alfresco dining, apartment entry forecourt and a general gathering space. Universal access is planned throughout the development including the heritage building.

Where will the new apartments be located and how do they interact with the heritage building?

The new apartment building will be located adjacent to the existing heritage building. They will be accessed via a central courtyard that will be an extension of the George Street public realm.

Will there be any overshadowing/overlooking issues for existing residents?

The residential building complies with the R-Codes in the area. There is minimal shadowing from the building, and a plan can be viewed as part of the development application. Internalised balconies also help with privacy for both existing and new residents.

How many additional George Street residents will there be upon completion?

We expect there to be approximately 50 new residents upon completion.

Who do you think will be living at the apartments?

Whilst it is difficult to predict, we believe the target market is local owner-occupiers from the surrounding areas who are either looking to downsize from larger properties or live close to the amenity that is offered in George Street.

Will there be a display suite?

We will decide on our marketing strategy, including whether we have a display suite, following the outcome of the DA process.

Who can I contact if I would like to enquire about one of the apartments?

You can be kept up to date on the project and apartment sales via the contact form on the Royal George website.

History of the
Royal George Hotel

The Royal George Hotel has been a much-loved icon of East Fremantle since it was built in 1903. Arguably the most important heritage building in the area, the Hotel’s grand appearance is typical of the gold rush era. Since closing in 1979, the building has had many uses including a gallery, restaurant, artists’ studios and community spaces.

Holding great social significance to the community, the building was saved from demolition and included in the State Register of Heritage Places. After many years of neglect, the iconic building will be restored and rejuvenated for the community to once again enjoy.

Royal George Hotel, 1903. (Royal Western Australian Historical Society, P1999.5388)
Architectural drawings by E. Mauermann. (Royal Western Australian Historical Society)
Fremantle Local History Library


What are the timings for the development?

The restoration works for the heritage building commenced in September 2020 and are expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2022. Fit out works for the new hospitality uses are expected to take another six months with the completed heritage building opening to the public by early 2023.

The new apartments are expected to commence construction in the fourth quarter of 2021 and be completed in early 2023 (18 months).

What are you going to do to manage construction noise and traffic?

Our appointed builders will be required to submit and adhere to a detailed construction management plan to the Town of East Fremantle which, amongst other things, will outline how we propose to minimise disruption to surrounding residents and businesses from noise and traffic.

Where will the construction workers park?

We will work with the Town of East Fremantle to minimise any disruption to residents from construction worker parking.

Do you need to remove any trees?

There are some trees within our site will need to be removed to enable construction. However, our landscaping plan proposes to plant up to 25 new significant trees including 12 new street trees.


What are the proposed new uses for the building?

We are proposing hospitality, food and beverage, accommodation and artisan makers for the use of the existing building. This will reinforce the local identity of the precinct as well as deliver additional amenity, economic benefit and potential employment to the community.

How will parking and traffic be managed?

We acknowledge that parking in the area can be difficult. The proposed development complies with the planning requirements, but we are also working with the Town of East Fremantle to find solutions to provide additional parking. Residents in the apartment building will have their own dedicated parking.

When was the Hotel built?

The Royal George Hotel was built in 1903.

What work is currently being undertaken at the Hotel?

A faithful restoration of the heritage building is underway. Initial exterior works are underway, with the next phase, including the interior restoration, set to commence by May this year.

How are you protecting the heritage elements of the existing building?

We are carefully restoring the existing building to return it to its former glory. A lot of research has been carried out to determine original materials used and how we can match existing features as closely as possible that can’t be repaired or restored.

How much will it cost to restore the Hotel?

The restoration of the heritage building and fit out for the new hospitality uses that will occupy the space is expected to cost approximately $7 million.

Is the restoration of the Hotel dependent on the development application?

A faithful restoration of the Royal George Hotel is already underway. Remaining interior restoration fit out works will be required to accommodate the proposed new uses for the Hotel and integration with the new apartment building. It is anticipated this will be complete by mid-2022 pending approvals.

Will key features such as the cupola and balconies be retained?

Yes, all key heritage features will be retained and restored. The Royal George Hotel has a unique design with many exemplary features of the gold rush era. These are important elements that give this pre-WW1 building character and contribute to the sense of place that community members feel towards the George Street precinct.

Development team

In June 2017 Saracen Properties purchased the Royal George and engaged prominent Fremantle architect Michael Patroni of spaceagency. The aim of this partnership is to undertake a full heritage restoration of the Hotel to rejuvenate this iconic building.

Saracen Properties is a West Australian family owned property development business that was formed in 1993. Since its inception the company has owned and developed a large number of retail, hospitality, residential, industrial and commercial office projects, including a number of key heritage restoration projects. The Saracen team takes a considered approach, only developing select projects that result in high-quality outcomes for their clients and the broader community.

Spaceagency, headed by renowned Western Australian architect Michael Patroni, is a leading Fremantle-based architecture practice that has extensive experience in the rejuvenation of heritage properties as well as designing new developments. Projects undertaken include The Premier Mill Hotel, Coogee Common, Rechabite Hall, Long Chim and Petition at the State Buildings, Alex Hotel, Bread in Common, Strange Company, many of which demanded significant heritage expertise.

TRICON is a privately owned Western Australian building contractor founded in 2016. With a reputation of delivering quality building projects to select clients, TRICON’s key management personnel has comprehensive experience in the heritage refurbishment and restoration of prominent buildings in WA including 125-137 St Georges Terrace (Brookfield Place), St George’s Hall Façade, Julio’s Restaurant and Sage Hotel in West Perth and Perth Girls School.

Living in the community

Living in the historic George Street precinct is unique. The old-fashioned high street, at the heart of East Fremantle, is bulging with dapper shopfronts, flourishing local boutiques, gourmet providores and vibrant eateries.

The picture-perfect postcard suburban-artery is rich in manicured gardens, charming workers’ cottages and neighbours chatting. It’s the people who live on and around the street that make it truly special.

Ideally located, the beach is a stone’s throw away and you can almost kick a pebble into the river from the verge.

You’ll love it.

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