October 12, 2023
By Kim Macdonald

A neglected city site is set for a new lease of life with the development of a 30-storey student residential complex on Wellington St, set to ease the chronic housing shortage.

Urban renewal specialist Sirona — which was behind much Fremantle’s inner city revitalisation along with Australian Unity and MaxCap — will finish it in time for the 2026 opening of the Edith Cowan University city campus.

The joint venture trio jumped on an existing development approval for a 30-storey tower above the heritage-listed army surplus store issued to previous landowner Blue Sky Real Estate.

Those plans were put on hold in 2018, leaving the neglected corner site a blight on the city.

Sirona Urban managing director Matthew McNeilly said the new owners had “tweaked” Blue Sky’s plans, reconfiguring them to boost bed numbers by 20 to a total of 730.

He said the move shaved nine months from the development, allowing it quickly respond to a massive surge in international students.

Design and images by Hayball.

“With the city currently offering more than 1,700 student beds, our analysis tells us that demand remains unsatisfied,” Mr McNeilly said.

”There was a 63 per cent increase in international students in WA in the first six months of 2023 compared with the same period last year, which is why we have taken a deliberate step to advance previous efforts on this site.”

He said part of the appeal of the site was its location at the edge of the historic heart precinct, claiming the development would give kick off the “renewal of the eastern end of the CBD (it) has been craving for decades.”

Australian Unity’s Ryan Banting said it was a gamechanger, claiming access to accommodation was a deciding factor in which course they could undertake.

Read article on The West Australian.