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An opportunity to transform people’s fundamental experience of a city comes along rarely. Thoughtful development does this through preserving heritage, whilst empowering a city for positive future growth. With the completion of Perth’s $240 million Raine Square redevelopment, we look at the impact this project will have on the life of the city and explore how Charter Hall’s largest development of this scale came to be.
Raine Square has long needed attention - as nearby developments changed the dynamic of the surrounding areas, increased pressure from vehicle and pedestrian traffic was the result. These changes were also impacting on how people used the city.
“Perth has gone through a significant transformation over the last 7 years.” Charter Hall’s Regional Development Manager for WA, Bradley Norris explains. “That’s included some major projects such as the Perth City Link, the redevelopment of Yagan square (immediately adjacent to Raine square), the completion of the new Perth stadium; and Elizabeth Quay, which includes a large amount of new premium hotels whose guests are easily directed towards the CBD.”
“With all of these things happening in Perth, the CBD itself was becoming much more of an urban environment - the city was changing and we were seeing that”
We’d bought the asset knowing that the retail component of the building needed to change, so these things were the impetus for the unique approach we took with the Raine Square development.”
When Charter Hall purchased Raine Square in 2013, it was with an acute understanding that the redevelopment needed to be agile and responsive to the needs of the community. A comprehensive upgrade was necessary, but creative thinking was essential. The function of the Square would depend on a diverse and unique blend of tenants, that would serve, but also inspire the local community to engage with the precinct.
Award winning architects Taylor, Robinson, Chaney, Broderick addressed a number of challenges with their design. Their brief was to improve general access and pedestrian flow in and around the precinct, whilst strengthening commuter connections between the Perth Underground train station, public transport and the broader CBD. There also had to be aspects of the design that gave commuters and pedestrians reasons not only to come to the precinct, but to stay there and become the essence of its character. Bradley explains “We were conscious that the changes going on in the CBD were creating demand for a retail environment that was 7 days a week, 18 hrs a day - entertainment, fashion, food and beverage.” To go above and beyond the everyday, the development really needed a more boutique focus. Having Palace Cinemas come on board was critical and the development needed to get the right food and beverage operators in place too. “It was important to us to offer something more extraordinary, we knew it needed to be a dining precinct that offered more than the standard shopping centre food court,” says Bradley.
The addition of Palace Cinemas is particularly exciting, offering nine screens, four platinum screens, luxury surrounds and screenings across weekdays and weekends, with day time and evening sessions. The focused selection of casual dining restaurants, and bespoke bars complete the package – one which has been long awaited since Perth’s last cinema complex closed some years ago. Flagship stores such as Coles and Liquorland, along with trusted retailers and high end fashion brands complete the offering, making Raine Square an all-round experience rather than just a destination.
Another key motivator for the design direction was Raine Square’s primary tenant customer Bank West. Having been based in the building prior to the redevelopment, it was important to not only consider the people occupying the 50,000 sq metres in the upper levels of the building, but in fact to utilise this diverse existing population to shape the character of Raine Square into the future. “We wanted to give Bank West and their staff a high-quality offering that met their everyday needs and more,” explains Bradley. “Not only can they grab lunch during the day, or pick up groceries, there’s also a medical centre, pharmacy, hair salons and so on. It’s really designed around providing a lot of options for the Bank West staff as well as the wider community.”
This of course creates an increase in usage, which mean public space needed to become a significant component of the design. “Retail has evolved and so has the expectation from the community of their public spaces. The retail component is about creating an environment people enjoy, not just about what they can buy. But creating a much more enjoyable experience such as a public square makes the overall space more usable.” The inclusion of a square and the creation of a laneway opened up the accessibility of the site. The former public plaza was transformed into a much improved public space that really activates the area for both casual meetings, time out, or for public events and celebrations.
Raine Square is also home to a couple of Perth’s most beloved heritage buildings - the Royal Hotel and the Wentworth building. Maintaining the structural and historic integrity of the properties was key and a loving restoration crucial, to retain their character and charm. With this in mind, a sensitive and considered approach to planning was essential.
These practical considerations have been impressively actioned, with the architects creating a functional contemporary design that draws in the surrounding traffic, whilst integrating seamlessly with the heritage buildings and the surrounding streetscape. The mixed use development houses Bank West’s office space, behind a stunning glass multi storey façade, with a selection of carefully curated retail tenants, a whole floor housing Palace cinemas and a diverse range of food and leisure outlets, on the lower levels. Charter Hall’s Head of Office Development, Andrew Borger explains:
“Our vision was to make Raine Square the ‘IT’ place in Perth. We did this by revitalising the retail and entertainment offering which provided a convenient and enjoyable experience not seen in Perth’s CBD.”
Pivotal to the realisation of the vision was the securing of significant and influential tenants, whose function would help the square achieve its innovative goals.
As is always the case with Charter Hall’s developments, Raine Square was a dynamic collaboration, with expertise and commitment to partnership the priority. Charter Hall’s vision for the site was beautifully brought to life by architects Taylor, Robinson, Chaney, Broderick and their work executed in construction over a 12 month period, by Built. Charter Hall knew the right partners were crucial to the project. Regional Development Manager for WA, Bradley Norris: “what was important to us when we selected Built was to find the right partners who not only understood our vision and had experience dealing with heritage buildings, but also modern retail centres. Also to partner with companies that were embedded into the community, and had been established in Perth for a long time. Built knew the needs of the wider community and were sensitive to that. They were a partner uniquely skilled to deliver this project in a very activated urban environment”.
The key players can now see the true realisation of their shared vision. According to Andrew Borger:
“This demonstrates what can be achieved when all stakeholders work collaboratively for the benefit of the Perth CBD and the West Australian economy”.
“This revitalised precinct offers a vibrant new entertainment, dining and retail experience and providing significant employment opportunities in the retail sector for the community.”
Along with its commitment to growing a community and city for the future, Charter Hall’s vision for Raine Square is fortified by its partnership with the Raine Medical Research Foundation. In 1957, Mary Raine bequeathed her entire property estate – which included the Raine Square site - to the University of Western Australia for medical research, and thus the Foundation was born.
Since its inception the foundation has funded a range of investigative research projects (and individual researchers), whose focus is on specific aspects of human disease. In the case of the Raine Square development, Charter Hall’s fundraising efforts will be directed towards medical research to treat children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD, learning difficulties, autism and range of communication and motor disorders.
Andrew Borger understands the impact of this for the local community. “We are proud to partner with the Raine Medical Research Foundation. As a member of Pledge 1%, a corporate philanthropic movement, this is one way in which we are integrating sustainability and community into our business to create a shared value for our people, our customers and the communities in which we operate.”
With the project now launched and bustling with excited Perth locals and tourists, everyone involved will soon be able to see just how transformative the Raine Square redevelopment can be for Perth city, today and into its future.