Heritage Renewal and Heirloom Development; It’s a Match

This project was originally going to be my first article topic. I had everything thought out, photos taken, interviews done, and I thought it was too important to me to rush. Week after week I held off, wanting to place it somewhere that felt right. It was an important building to me and I couldn’t justify writing about it as a passing article. So I came to the conclusion that;

  1. I am extremely good at procrastinating
  2. This project will be my feature article

The second conclusion came to me randomly and quite some time after conclusion one. I don’t even know why it took me to so long to realise that my favourite building and most significant project should obviously be the most important article.

Without further rambling on my behalf I present to you one of my favourite buildings; Heirloom by Match. I believe it is the most well-known and successful renovation project in Fremantle.

The building was built in 1922, situated in a prime location near the port and rail line. It was formerly known as the famous Dalgety Wool Stores building and belonged to wool companies at a time where the industry was a success in Western Australia. However, after many years of service the building sat unused for over 20 years. When people started to wonder what would become of such an iconic Fremantle building, a genius project came to light and the development of the Wool Stores building was “too important not to pursue.” [1] It is now three large, industrial style apartment blocks.

The successful refurbishment project was run by M/Group and falls under their brand Match, a boutique development brand. M/Group was the property management group behind the genius idea of investing in the abandoned warehouse. They selected talented architects Cameron Chisholm Nicol to design the empty warehouse into 183 one and two-bedroom apartments with a redevelopment cost of $130 million. Cameron Chisholm Nicol worked with the spatial qualities and unique characteristics only found in what used to be the Wool Stores. The managing director of M/Group, Lloyd Clark, ensured the final outcome would retain many of the original buildings charm such as the eye-catching saw-tooth roof, jarrah beams, exposed brick walls, and spacious 3.6m high ceilings.

To pay respects and recognition to the industry that was vital to our states history the project reattained a large hoist. This acted as a wool elevator transporting up to 240kgs of wool between floors. This unique part of the former building can be seen in the main entrance to new apartments.

Hocking Heritage Studio Director Yen Nee Goh said “it would be another significant feature in a unique heritage project…There will be nothing like it in WA,” [3]

My emphasis during my other articles was on the fact that repurposing and refurbishing old buildings helps preserve Western Australia’s history and past. Lloyd Clark perfectly explains howthis project has done exactly that; “Heirloom is unquestionnably a significant project to Fremantle, both from a social and economic perspective. It is the City’s gateway and located on its important Port. Historically, it represents the grass roots of the City and where it all started. It would have been a tragedy to leave such a magnificent building dormant to deteriorate into a state of disrepair,”[4]

There is a greater risk and cost when investing in heritage listed buildings. Those who choose to invest in these old buildings are a specific type of buyer. They must have interest and dedication in giving the project the care it deserves and that sums up Match Group perfectly. “Heritage renewals are often considered by banks to carry more financial risk and, as such, the banks are more cautious in lending and require higher pre-sales. We have worked tirelessly to meet the requirements of this project with full support from the City of Fremantle who recognise how much this project will bring to the local economy.”[5]

From the very beginning all counterparts included in this large-scale refurbishment project respected the history behind the building and what it means to us today. “The building is an important site in the historic fabric of the Fremantle port area, a factor that was acknowledged at the project outset and guided the design and approvals strategy. We embraced its heritage significance… Instead of downplaying the building’s historic value and proposing a development that paid little respect to its heritage, we recommended adding the building to the State Register of Heritage Places prior to seeking planning approval.” [6]

Katy on her enclosed balcony.

A friend was happy to chat about her unique one-bedroom apartment that she snatched up when the Hierloom building was first released for sale.

Q: What enticed you to buy one of these apartments?

“It was a quite spontaneous decision, I had driven past the building when it first opened, when they were displaying the apartments. Then they had sold a quite few already and I saw that this one bedroom one was still available, but it was the same size as the two-bedroom ones. I thought it was the perfect location, I’d always wanted to live in Fremantle. It was close to the train station and the town centre.  I wanted a place that was secure and safe but also had some character and history behind it. It’s weird thinking what was going on here… like all those sheep. It’s also just a nice feeling to know other people have been here.”[7]

Q: Were you glad they kept the aspects of the original warehouse still intact, like the beams and entrance, rather than keep the outside façade the same and completely modernise the interiors?

“Yeah definitely, the beams where a big drawcard for me. I think some new apartments can look quite sterile, so the character of the original features is so unique.”[8]

Q: Is there any downsides to living in an old building?

“Not really, the only thing I’ve noticed is that the mortar between the original brickwork sometimes leaves a dust on the floor. But I clean so that’s not really an issue.”[9]

Q: The buildings were described as one of a kind. Do you think this is a smart investment property?

“At the moment due to the market maybe not but in ten years time I think definitely however this is something I want to have my whole life so don’t see myself selling it. When I got a lot of information on the building when I was looking at buying the apartment they told me a crazy amount, like 80 percent were investment properties. In terms of apartments I think it’s definitely unique compared to the ones across the road.”[10]

(Katy was referring to the Liv Apartments on Queen Victoria Street right outside her window. It was a bleak apartment block that was described as ‘contemporary’ however was uncharismatic in comparison to its neighbourhood counterpart, the Heirloom apartments.)

“They get to look at this building and I have to look at that! Personally, it was a great investment, I feel so happy when I walk in.”[11]  And I had to definitely agree with her.

Heirloom by Match is the perfect homage to Western Australias past. It is a refurbishment project that has respected the former building and has repurposed it for people today and future generations to admire. The project kept the Wool Stores dignity and character intact fully knowing how large in scale and complexity undergoing the development was.

It is one of my favourite buildings purely because it is a beautiful and charismatic building filled with so many stories and now it has a new life.











[1] Lloyd Clark, (Managing Director), in discussion with the Kent Acott, December 8, 2016. https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/wa/fremantles-woolstores-heritage-building-reborn-as-apartments-ng-8fda1d4d3392634694795ad072997581

[2] Wool Stores Main Entrance, Apr 18, 2017, by Gemma Travers, Photograph https://stateheritage.wa.gov.au/awards/finalists/conservation-or-adaptive-reuse-of-a-state-registered-place

[3] Yen Nee Goh (Studio Director), in discussion with Kent Acott, 25 October 2015.  https://thewest.com.au/news/australia/an-icon-of-freo-ready-to-be-reborn-ng-ya-131213

[4] Author Unknown, “Project Focus: Heirloom By Match Revives Iconic Fremantle Wool Store,” The Urban Developer, 2 June, 2016.


[5] ibid.

[6] Rowe Group, Dalgety Wool Stores, accessed May 2018, http://www.rowegroup.com.au/project/dalgety-wool-stores

[7] Katy Newman, (Apartment Owner), in discussion with Author, March 2018

[8] ibid.

[9] ibid.

[10] ibid.

[11] ibid.