WITH mask mandates going and a new state government cash injection, there’s optimism this week that some life might soon return to Perth’s CBD.
Premier Mark McGowan announced as of April 29 masks were only needed for public transport, hospitals and care facilities.
Lord mayor Basil Zempilas said at this week’s council meeting he had good reason to be optimistic that’d help get people back to work in CBD offices.
“We know from the example in other capital cities that the mask mandate removal has made a big difference to the number of office workers coming back to the office,” he said.
“Melbourne’s example is perhaps the most relevant for us: 18 per cent office occupancy the month before the mask mandates came down, 60 per cent after the mask mandates came down, and in the most recent month that has continued to climb.
“So we’re very optimistic about numbers of people coming back into our city … we appreciate it’s been very difficult for some smaller businesses, and larger and medium businesses.”
The next day on April 27 came a state government boon with Perth state MP John Carey announcing a $12m package to boost foot traffic in the CBD.
A third has been earmarked for grants of up to $100,000 each to help run live music, markets and street events.
Another $1m will go to the not-for-profit Activate Perth to get new startups and small businesses in vacant shop fronts, while $7m will go into trying to revitalise Yagan Square.
The square opened in March 2018 but it’s always had troubles, with many of the businesses in the main Market Hall moving out due to a lack of trade and nearby violence in the public square. At times it’s been like a fight club except everyone forgot the first rule. Now police are stationed there round the clock to fend off trouble, with another 175 extra cops in the Perth district incoming.
The $7m will include a revamp of the Market Hall, and hospitality operator Nokturnl are the state’s preferred proponent to give it CPR. They’re behind other big multi-venue hubs like The Old Synagogue in Fremantle, and the newish The Beaufort in Highgate.
Mr Carey said in the announcement: “This is a significant package that makes clear our government will support businesses in the city and Northbridge, and invest in getting people back in the CBD.
“The event grants are really a blank canvas, and with up to $100,000 on offer, it is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to make use of vacant and empty spaces, to get people back into the city.
“We could see some really fantastic events being held, such as long table lunches alongside the river showcasing some of our state’s finest food and wine, and live music and artistic events in some unique locations in the city.
“My message to the community and to businesses is to make use of the funding, so we can activate the city and Northbridge and bring some vibrancy back into the CBD.”
by DAVID BELL