City of Fremantle pulls Quarry St project
We regretfully inform you that the City of Fremantle has decided not to proceed with the Quarry St Co-operative Housing opportunity. Their decision has removed the chance of creating perpetually affordable housing for owner occupiers in Fremantle. The decision, and most importantly the handling of the Expression of Interest and Tender process by the City of Freo, is perplexing, and leaves much to answer for.
The Co-operative Housing opportunity at Quarry St was announced with much fanfare by the City of Fremantle as a project that would demonstrate a different development model resulting in sustainable, affordable housing, for owner occupiers, using a deliberative development model.
The request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) was released by the City of Fremantle in October 2016. The selection criteria were challenging, and some would say impossible to meet. They included meeting high level sustainability results, providing affordable housing for owner occupiers, in perpetuity, and for the developing entity to be democratically owned and controlled by the future owner occupiers. Four parties submitted a proposal that met all selection criteria. Green Fabric had brought together a team of professionals, the Quarry St Steering Committee and this committee was one of the parties.
A year later, in October 2017, the City proceeded to the second tender stage and invited the four parties, those that previously met all EOI selection criteria, to respond. It is interesting to note that the City made changes to the selection criteria for the tender process. For the Quarry St Steering Committee these changes meant that a previously compliant EOI proposal, no longer met the tender selection criteria. Not one to give up easily on this unique opportunity, the Committee went back to the drawing board and proceeded to submit a tender response.
The City of Fremantle received two submissions during this second stage of the process, the tender; the Quarry St Steering Committee’s was one of them. The Committee believes this submission again met all the selection criteria. In addition to meeting the selection criteria, there was a requirement by the City of Fremantle that an unconditional contract of sale be signed as a part of the tender submission. The Committee raised serious and valid issues and concerns about this proposed contract with the City. One of issues we pointed out to the City was that, if signed, Freo would not be able to enforce compliance with the tender’s selection criteria. Another concern was that the contract removed standard clauses to protect purchasers. In the tender submission the Committee proposed some changes to the contract under the assumption that reasonable conditions would be agreed to by the City of Fremantle.
Instead, without seeking any further clarification from tenderers, the City of Fremantle decided to pull the project. The committee was informed of the City of Fremantle’s decision on 22 March. Here is a link to the letter we received.
We found the City’s lack of communication highly unusual as it is common during a tender process to seek further clarification if required from tenderers. Instead it seems that incorrect assumptions were made which influenced the decision to pull the project.
We met with the City of Fremantle on 24 April to discuss their decision. The City of Fremantle argues they were unable to proceed with the project because they did not receive any compliant tenders. We stand by our decision not to sign the proposed contract of sale for obvious reasons and are perplexed by the City’s insistence on compliance from tenderers with a document that was flawed. We firmly belief the City could have handled the process differently, but chose not to. What also leaves us bewildered is that the City has not yet provided us with written feedback on our tender submission. We want to know how our proposal was assessed against the selection criteria. Despite numerous requests since 22 March, to this date we have not received this.
Lodging the EOI and tender involved considerable time and expense for all applicants.
There was great interest in the Quarry St project; many were hopeful to call Quarry St home. The Quarry St Steering Committee was ready to work with the City of Fremantle and future residents to successfully deliver a co-operative housing project on this site.
While the City of Fremantle seems committed to creating future opportunities, we all know this takes time.
The Committee knows their work has inspired opportunities and collaborative efforts nationally. They will continue to look for and provide other opportunities for sustainable community building & living. The only thing they need is a patient land owner willing to consider delayed settlement options. They are currently working on real opportunities, including Coolbellup, Mandurah and Albany.
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Links to previous blog posts about the Quarry St project: