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. Combining old with new, the project will include a faithful restoration of the existing building, development of high-quality residential apartments and reinvigoration of surrounding public spaces. In keeping with its original use, the Hotel will house a unique hospitality experience that will be among Perth’s best.
Careful consideration of the site’s rich history and a focus on quality design will see the Royal George restored as the social heart of the historic George Street precinct.
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.
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 create a first-class hospitality venue and residential accommodation offering.
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, will design both the refurbishment of the Royal George Hotel and the neighbouring residential development. spaceagency has extensive experience in the rejuvenation of heritage properties as well as designing new developments. Projects undertaken by spaceagency include: The Queens Hotel in Mount Lawley, Long Chim and Petition at the State Buildings (Perth), Alex Hotel (Northbridge), Bread in Common (Fremantle), Strange Company (Fremantle) and many others, many of which demanded significant heritage expertise.
In June 2017 Saracen Properties purchased the heritage-listed Royal George Hotel from the State Government and engaged prominent Fremantle architect Michael Patroni of Spaceagency to come up with a design for the restoration and adaptive re-use of the heritage building as well as a concept for a high-quality apartment building on the vacant land behind the existing building.
Who is Saracen Properties?
Saracen Properties is a 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, predominately in Western Australia. Over the past 23 years, Saracen Properties has successfully initiated and completed projects valued in excess of $1.5 billion, including a number of key heritage restoration projects.
Who is spaceagency?
Spaceagency Architects, headed by renowned Western Australian architect Michael Patroni, will design both the refurbishment of the Royal George Hotel and the neighbouring residential development. Spaceagency has extensive experience in the rejuvenation of heritage properties as well as designing new developments.
Project designs undertaken by Spaceagency include: The Queens Hotel in Mount Lawley, Long Chim and Petition at the State Buildings (Perth), Alex Hotel (Northbridge), Bread in Common (Fremantle), Strange Company (Fremantle), the award-winning Knutsford development and the Baugruppen project (White Gum Valley), The Premier Mill Hotel (Katanning) as well as many others, many of which demanded significant heritage expertise.
Why the Royal George Hotel?
The Royal George Hotel is an iconic property that has been left to decay for too long.
What started as a topic of conversation over breakfast on George Street, regarding how sad it is to see a grand old property such as the Royal George Hotel been left to deteriorate, ultimately resulted in the property being purchased from the State Government and a plan being made for the full restoration of the heritage building. This overall design concept includes an apartment development on the vacant land at the rear of the Royal George Hotel, which will assist to fund the repairs and restoration of the existing building.
What types of uses will be provided within the refurbished Hotel?
The main aim is to restore and rejuvenate the Hotel to ensure ongoing access and engagement by the public as well as patrons. The following types of uses are proposed:
Licensed bars including a boutique distillery/wine bar
Boutique function rooms
Note: there may be some rooms used for boutique hotel/short stay accommodation if there is considered to be sufficient demand.
How will the heritage value of the Hotel be protected?
Prior to purchasing the Hotel, Saracen Properties and the Heritage Council of Western Australia (HCWA) entered into a Heritage Management Agreement which governs, among other things, the restoration of the Hotel, its ongoing maintenance and timeframes for the work to be complete.
The HCWA is a key stakeholder in this project and has indicated in initial discussions and presentations that they are supportive of the proposed restoration of the Hotel and for an adjoining residential development to occur.
Further consultation with the HCWA will be initiated once feedback from the community is
included within the project design process. Furthermore, HCWA must give approval to the project prior to restoration commencing, including details such as colours, lighting materials, signage and uses.
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.
Other key heritage restoration works will include:
Removal of non-original features
Expose and refurbish original features previously covered up
Reinstate original windows
Replace galvanised roof and guttering
Rebuild rear timber verandah
Remove paint on brickwork and tuck and point brickwork
Repaint stone masonry
Refurbish zinc shingles on cupola
Repoint chimney brickwork
Refurbish cast iron balcony balustrading
Refurbish timber detailing to verandah
Rebuild column bases
How much will it cost to restore the Hotel?
Having been left to deteriorate so badly over the past 15 years, the Royal George Hotel is in serious need of restoration and its survival is at risk if nothing is done. The total cost for the restoration and adaptive reuse of the heritage building is estimated to be approximately $6 million.
There are two main components to this cost. The first is the restoration of all significant heritage features of the building in line with the Heritage Agreement that was signed by Saracen Properties when the building was purchased. These costs have been estimated at $4 million.
The second component is the cost to adapt the heritage building to suit the new uses that are proposed to go within it once the restoration is complete. These costs include adaptations that are required to make the heritage building compliant with all modern building standards and codes. These costs are estimated to be a further $2 million on top of the base restoration cost of $4 million.
What is planned for the public space surrounding the hotel?
If the current proposed scheme is approved Saracen Properties, with the Town of East Fremantle’s consent, is proposing to revitalise the public realm surrounding the Royal George.
The proposal involves the redesign and upgrade of the Stirling Highway underpass on the George Street side and will involve redesigning the access to the underpass and landscaping to provide a welcoming community space and an attractive end to George Street, reconnecting two parts of East Fremantle previously divided by Stirling Highway and the current underpass.
What is the concept design for the proposed apartments?
The concept design proposes a podium development at the lower levels with a slender apartment tower above. The scale of the tower seeks to respect the design of the Hotel and provides a backdrop rather than competing with the lower height of Hotel. This design approach to developments next to heritage buildings has been successfully applied in other locations in the metropolitan area (Como – The Treasury at the State Buildings, City of Perth Library and Church House – Cathedral Heritage Precinct, Perth).
Who will be living here?
The apartments have been designed to suit owner occupiers from the surrounding area of East Fremantle. The apartments are predominantly large 2- and 3-bedroom apartments designed to appeal to local residents who may no longer wish to maintain gardens and larger homes or to those who are suited to the lower maintenance lifestyle of an apartment.
How many apartments are proposed for the site and what types of dwelling will be provided?
The exact number of apartments hasn’t been determined at this stage, however approximately 40 apartments are required in order to make the revitalisation of the Royal George Hotel viable. A mix of one, two and three bedrooms are proposed, with variations in floor designs to cater for single person households to families. All the apartments and common areas will be designed to a high specification in line with the quality of homes in the surrounding areas.
How much will the apartments cost?
The price of apartments will be determined once the final design and approvals have been received, however at this time under the current proposal, it is anticipated that the price ranges for the apartments will be as follows:
1 bed apartments between $425,000 to $495,000
2 bed apartments between $650,000 to $950,000
3 bed apartments between $985,000 to $1,500,000
These prices are based on advice received from local real estate agents and are provided as an indication only – they may change once the final design is approved.
Why is a tall slender building proposed rather than a shorter, wider development?
In order to fund the refurbishment of the Royal George Hotel, approximately 40 apartments will be required. The same number of apartments could be developed in a building approximately nine storeys, resulting in more bulk and massing immediately adjacent to the Hotel. This is not considered an appropriate design response to the Hotel’s heritage values hence the proposal for a lower podium and slender tower.
The benefits of developing a taller, more slender tower include:
Better separation between the unique heritage of the Royal George Hotel and the new development
Less bulk imposed on neighbouring Duke Street properties
Less impact from overshadowing as the longer but narrower shadow is cast primarily over Stirling Highway
Accommodating all parking on-site
How will traffic and parking be managed at the new building and will the road access change?
It is proposed that car parking will be contained on site by providing 100 car bays within the new building at the rear of the Hotel. This includes a mix of on-grade and car stacker bays, providing sufficient parking for all proposed uses – both residential and commercial – and comply with council parking requirements.
Vehicle access to the development will be from Duke Street at approximately the same location as the existing driveway.
Has there been any public consultation?
An extensive community consultation process was held in early 2018, which included an evening forum held on Thursday 12th April with local businesses in the George Street Precinct and two Community Open Days which were held on Friday 13th April and Saturday 14th of April 2018. Approximately 800 people attended these sessions, which were advertised across East Fremantle and surrounding suburbs via letterbox drops, full page newspaper advertising in the Fremantle Herald and site signage.
Creating Communities were engaged to manage the independent collection of feedback. Feedback forms were provided to all attendees on the day, as well as anecdotal notes being taken by the independent project team during the event. Of the 800+ people who attended the open days, 152 written feedback forms were collected, with further anecdotal feedback compiled by the project team from discussions with 74 attendees. Following the open days, Creating Communities received 13 feedback forms as well as 10 written emails with feedback.
Where can I find more detailed plans?
Once the DA application is made, full plans will be available at the Town of East Fremantle to view. If you wish to stay up to date with the project, please sign up to receive email updates.
When will the project be complete?
The project completion date is dependent on approvals, however ideally, we would like the project to be completed by 2021.
What happens next?
The Town of East Fremantle has made recommended changes to the Town’s planning scheme in relation to the Royal George Hotel site known as ‘Amendment 15’ which has now been referred to the to the WA Planning Commission (WAPC).
The WAPC will either recommend the Minister of Planning adopt the Amendment as proposed by the Town or it can recommend further changes be made to the Amendment.
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.