Waste of space

TWO years after the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority moved 83-year-old Bob Mainstone out of his Beaufort Street shop, the place remains empty.

Fed up with waiting to move back in, he’s now planning to shift into a Cleaver Street shop in West Perth, a quiet locale speckled with old light industrial shops.

Mr Mainstone ran a leadlight glass business out of the corner shop near Weld Square for 30 years and employed three retirement-age workers part-time when forced to close.

The MRA owned the building and ended his lease “to allow us to fully investigate the building, determine its condition and scope any improvement works” says CEO Kieran Kinsella.

The MRA’s ambit includes “urban renewal,” “placemaking” and “urban development”. It boasts the Twitter tag “@VitalPerth”.

In other parts of town the MRA has sought to fill empty buildings like this with new businesses and pop-up shops, even offering subsidised rent to get a tenant in place, because empty buildings attract vandalism and dereliction.

• Bob Mainstone has worked out of home for two years since a Barnett government authority ended his lease on this still-empty building.

• Bob Mainstone has worked out of home for two years since a Barnett government authority ended his lease on this still-empty building.

For some reason that rule of thumb hasn’t been applied here. After two years of emptiness and neglect the only progress is an attempt to soften the abandoned frontage with colourful shapes pasted in the window.

Mr Kinsella says “the MRA is currently investigating options for the building including refurbishment for potential leasing purposes, or sale”.

But “they’ve done nothing,” Mr Mainstone complains.

He says he used to have a working shop that helped activate the street, employed three old-timers and paid rent.

Without his shop he mainly works from home now, and a secondary set-up in Osborne Park.

“It’s been very hard for me. I still do a little bit here… I couldn’t take on work much because I never had anywhere to go.”

The MRA wants something that will complement the nearby cultural centre, Tafe, and the “food, beverage, retail and creative precincts of Newcastle and William Streets”.

by DAVID BELL

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