Gentrification – Indirect displacement

The old Myer building in central Fremantle used to be crammed full of artisan shops. You could spend hours in there browsing at your own ease everything from antique furniture too rare design brands that aren’t usually sold here in Australia. I travelled down there only recently to spend the morning hoping of getting a lot of birthday present and mother’s day shopping done all in one go. Only to find that the building had become a large construction site. The new development dubbed the Kings square (Fremantle), perhaps to evoke the recently redeveloped kings square in Perth (construction was completed in 2015). After I go over my annoyance at a misleading Facebook page that claimed the whole complex was still open, I began to appreciate the magnitude of this new development for Fremantle. The 270 million dollar project designed by renowned Fremantle architects, Kerry Hill and Associates boast that it will renew Freo city centre. The redevelopment self-styled as FOMO is expected to create more the 2,100 new jobs as well as produce a massive boast too the Fremantle economy. In my research however, I have failed to find any concrete evidence for the numbers advertised or the date that they will manifest.

On that sunny morning I decided to console myself for the wasted trip with a coffee and some brunch at a local café and a quick browse through the local shops. There are a lot of good Sammy’s and Vinnies shops around Fremantle’s city centre. These shops are a proverbial shopping gold mine as it presents the possibility of finding unique clothing without the outlandish price tag as well as the thrill of instant gratification, which is lost with internet shopping. The discrepancy between the existing retail experience in Fremantle and the excessive shopping culture I suspect the name FOMO promises brings to mind indirect displacement caused by gentrification. In Pop culture FOMO means Fear of Missing Out, this party cry of a generation I fear is fundamentally at odds with the existing condition of Fremantle

Perhaps my investigation into gentrification has made me rather cynical. However it is worth looking at this project from both perspectives. In the words of Tom Slater, a professor of Geoscience at the university of Edinburgh “from the penthouse as well as the sidewalk”. For the investors (the penthouse dwellers) Sirona Capital and the city of Fremantle stand to make a large return on their $220 Million and $50 Million investments respectively. However for the city’s most poor and vulnerable it will represent another signifier, as well as the sky rocketing rents that them and their class are no longer welcome in Fremantle.