When I first arrived here in Perth almost 20 years ago (seriously, has it been that long?) many of the older buildings were empty. I found this a little sad coming from a country where many old buildings were still used and admired.
But as I soon realised Perth, with its superficial attitude and effervescent lifestyle, always favoured the new over the old.
All of a sudden in the past 18 months or so, many of Perth’s “Old” buildings have been given a face lift and new lease on life.
What started this renaissance seems to have come from the building of another office tower in Perth’s CBD for recourse giant BHP Billiton and of course, they needed somewhere to party.
So what better place than to use the old buildings directly at their feet? These lovely buildings used to accommodate The West Australian Newspaper (including its Print Hall), The Perth Trustee/Insurance as well as the Perth Technical College and Old Boys School.
The redevelopment of these beautiful old buildings has given us a new precinct that is very cool.
It is this here where you can also find a room top bar (very appropriate, given Perth’s weather), on top of the appropriately named Print Hall with its four floors dedicated to fine dining and sophisticated New York style entertainment.
Along the Terrace you can find The Heritage Restaurant. The Heritage is truly amazing with its Belle Époque theme transporting you back to pre-war Paris.
Its great atmosphere, food and service making it ideal for those special occasions when you’ve got something to celebrate or just want to enjoy the finer things in life, even if it leaves the credit card begging for mercy.
Next door is The Trustee, with its Art Deco theme is equally as suave.
The only gripe that I have about this area is that the outdoor area seems a little windswept and devoid of energy or personality. I wonder how long it is before we could have a jazz trio playing or a solo Sax dude filling up that empty space and drawing people out from the various venues.
Of course there are a few other places around, like Bar LaFayette or Bobéche which are smaller, quieter but no less sophisticated or cool.
These buildings also accommodate a coffee shops and vintage clothes shops as well as (with their large windows providing plenty of natural light and high callings) an art gallery.
Walking around this gallery made me wonder what it took them so long to start using these amazing spaces. Of course all it takes is one to start off a trend but thankfully there are a few buildings that have stood vacant or underdeveloped for many years that are now being developed into boutique hotels and restaurants.
I hope these buildings remain appreciated well into the future and as the recent developments in Perth show, just because something is old it doesn’t mean it is passé. The old buildings can sit side by side with the uber new and ultra modern and don’t have to be knocked down when tastes change, unless they were built in the 1960s then go right ahead and pull them down.