Cover Story

Scentre Group – Perth

The new iconic Westfield Stirling with the completely transformed Oswald Street running through its centre

Perth is on the move; it’s expanding to the extent that some of the largest urban renewal projects ever undertaken in Australia will be seen in the city. Two new ‘Strategic Centres’ have been designated – secondary CBDs – as Perth positions itself to overtake Brisbane as Australia’s third-largest city. Westfield Innaloo (to be renamed Westfield Stirling) and Westfield Carousel are destined to dominate the downtowns of these two new CBDs; Westfield Whitford City has the prime position in one of the three ‘Secondary Centres’.

Scentre Group has a development pipeline of over $1 billion to be spent on its three centres in Perth. To fully understand the extent of these centre redevelopments, it’s necessary to look at the city’s strategies for future development, because the two are inextricably linked.

Perth dominates the Western Australian economy, and that’s based on far more than iron ore.
Australia is the world’s largest producer of both bauxite and alumina with half of the national production coming from WA. In addition, the state produces huge amounts of gold, nickel, ammonia, petroleum products and liquefied natural gas.

Agriculture in WA is significant on any global scale: wheat production in the state accounts for half Australia’s total, and there’s barley, peas, lamb, and beef. The fishing and wine industries have now assumed legendary status, while tourism is booming in WA, with Perth taking the leading role.

Yet, through the last decade or so, Perth’s growth and its wealth have not been reflected in its retail scene; the major shopping centres are well located but, in terms of retail area per head of population, Perth has around 25% less than the other capital cities. Historically, Perth’s planning rules placed a cap on shopping centre size and Sunday trading was not allowed, with the effect that the city’s shopping centres got stuck in a sort of time warp and were representative of how retail used to be, rather than an expression of the future. This cap on expansion created a lack of investment in retail and shopping centre developments.

Times have changed, as have the rules.

‘Directions 2031 & Beyond’ is the primary spatial framework governing Perth and Peel metropolitan planning. The cities of Stirling and Canning (Cannington) are designated Strategic Centres; Westfield Innaloo and Westfield Carousel sit respectively in their midst. Whitford is a designated Secondary Centre; Westfield Whitford City is one of the major retail facilities in the region.

Larger super regional retail centres are preferred in the two Strategic Centres (Stirling and Cannington), where they are generally co-located in CBD locations with major office and higher-density residential developments. Scentre Group’s Westfield Innaloo and Westfield Carousel will assume the role of the dominant super-prime regionals in these two Strategic Centres.

Westfield Innaloo will be renamed Westfield Stirling (in this article we will refer to it as such). The link between Scentre Group’s redevelopments and the Strategic Plan for Perth as a whole is clearly demonstrated here. Local employment is expected to increase with the City of Stirling set to become a Strategic Metropolitan Centre in Perth’s planning hierarchy. The Osborne Park Industrial Area, with a working population of over 20,000, sits across the road from Westfield Stirling. What’s happening here is similar to what happened in the Sydney suburbs of Parramatta and Chatswood 20 years ago: as Sydney expanded, the need was created for secondary CBDs within its metropolis. Perth’s City of Stirling is about to become the city’s second CBD, and Westfield Stirling will undoubtedly become the centre of this new emerging city.

We spoke to the City of Stirling’s Mayor, Giovanni Italiano who told us: “The City of Stirling is located just eight kilometres from the Perth CBD and the area in which the suburb of Innaloo is located, and thus the new look Westfield, is the Stirling City Centre. This area and the neighbouring Herdsman Glendalough area is the largest business precinct outside of the Perth CBD and currently employs 40,000 people. Accessibility into this region with current congestion and traffic management issues is challenging however the City of Stirling has a vision for this area extending all the way to Scarborough Beach, and we are working closely with State and Federal governments in addition to private investors and the community, to improve the connectivity of the area thus unlocking an estimated $16 billion worth of private investment in the area over the next thirty years.

“Planning is now being finalised for Australia’s largest urban renewal project that will be completed over four stages,” he continued. “This includes the construction of Stephenson Avenue and a new freeway interchange that runs through the middle of 55 hectares of vacant government land and 40 hectares of privately owned land. It also includes a number of road extensions along the construction of Stephenson Avenue and will connect Scarborough Beach Road to the Mitchell Freeway and provide a transport link for future residents, the Perth CBD and Scarborough Beach.

We would also like to see light rail explored down Scarborough Beach Road from Glendalough station terminated at Scarborough Beach. Westfield Innaloo will be a community focal point for the area, which will deliver a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Ultimately the Stirling City Centre will deliver 82,000 new jobs and house over 63,000 people.”

As it stands, Westfield Stirling has a GLA of 47,000m2; it’s a DDS anchored centre with a Target, K-Mart, Big W, Coles and Spud Shed – a fresh-food market that is an established institution on the Perth retail scene. At the volume end of the market the specialties are all there: Cotton On, Dotti, Factorie, Foot Locker, Michael Hill, Just Jeans, Katies, Lowes, Roger David, Noni B, Portmans, Sussan, Harvey Norman, to name just a few.

But Scentre Group’s holdings at Innaloo are far more than just the Westfield Shopping Centre. There’s the Innaloo Mega Centre, the Innaloo Shopping Village and the Event Cinema complex. It’s a huge site with land holdings totalling some 18 hectares or close to 45 acres on the old scale! The adjacent Mega Centre was not developed by Scentre Group (or Westfield) but was acquired by them some years ago. The Innaloo Shopping Village, with one of the most popular and successful fresh fish operations in Perth, sits on the site with the Event Cinema complex separated by Scarborough Beach Road.

What’s there now – all the components – is dated, all belonging to a past era. Yes it’s the retail heart of the region but it lacks sophistication. Access is superb; the site is bounded by Scarborough Beach Road, Ellen Stirling Boulevard and Oswald Street, while across Ellen Stirling Boulevard sits the massive Osborne Industrial Area and its 20,000 workers. But it’s a hotchpotch of retail, disjointed, fragmented and lacking modernity. Yet it trades; in retail terms it’s powerful with an MAT/m2 in excess of $8,000 which results in a Specialty MAT/m2 close to $9,000. With a turnover of $342 million, it occupies the number two spot on the SCN Little Gun MAT ladder – the second highest-performing Little Gun in the country.

But now everything is to change. As the City of Stirling enters a new era, Westfield Stirling will emerge as its iconic public face. This is no ordinary redevelopment – it’s not an extension but a total transformation of this massive site. The disjointed retail facilities will disappear and become part of a single homogenous mass.

Westfield Stirling will more than double in size, expanding from its present 47,000m2 to a whopping 109,000m2 to present itself as the dominant, super-prime regional for the City of Stirling and one of the largest centres in Australia.

Today, one enters the site from Ellen Stirling Boulevard via Oswald Street, which runs between Westfield Innaloo and the Mega Centre. It’s a non-descript street, part of Scentre Group’s land holding, but it’s destined to become an iconic landmark retail strip at the centre of the new Westfield Stirling. At ground level it’s a busy, active, totally transformed street with alfresco pockets flanked by vibrant retail. The Mega Centre will be totally redeveloped internally and a new retail plan will totally re-mix it.

Move above the street and two brand new, second retail levels, one in the existing Westfield centre and the other in the Mega Centre, are linked by mall bridges across Oswald Street. It’s here that the new Westfield Stirling moves into another dimension: a new fashion-orientated mall anchored by David Jones and no doubt the full collection of the international brand mini-majors. It’s as modern, as striking and as iconic as it gets; the finishes are luxury, slick and at the forefront of modern mall design.

It’s a ‘racetrack’ configuration and its incorporation with the existing centre is outstanding. They are creating a voided opening leading to the level above; it’s a feature stairway with escalator access as well. But the void takes us visually to a third level, on one side of Oswald Street anchored by the upper level of David Jones and on the other, a massive 14-screen Event Cinema complex.

It’s a total transformation of the site, the former separated retail complexes and indeed, the centre of the City of Stirling. Scentre Groups Westfield Stirling will emerge as an iconic representation of the city’s future.

All that is to the north of the Perth CBD. Move south and the second designated Strategic Centre is the City of Cannington, at the heart of which is Westfield Carousel.

In terms of demographic and catchment, if Stirling can be likened to Bondi Junction then Cannington could be said to mirror Parramatta!

Westfield Carousel doesn’t need superlatives to describe its performance; the numbers speak for themselves! In terms of GLA, Westfield Carousel at 82,338m2 is Australia’s 38th largest centre. In terms of turnover though, it moves up 14 places to number 24 with an MAT of $587 million. Go to the real performance numbers and you find Westfield Carousel at number 12 on the Big Guns MAT/m2 rankings with $8,368; on the Specialty MAT/m2 it sits in 19th place with a stunning $11,328.

It’s the heart of Cannington, the second of the two Strategic Centres designated in Perth’s Planning Hierarchy detailed in its ‘Directions 2031 & Beyond’. Again, as in the City of Stirling, Scentre Group dominates the retail scene. Some $350 million will be spent by Scentre Group on their Westfield Carousel centre.

In overview, the centre presently consists of a long, single level mall running east west. Coles and Kmart anchor the eastern end; Myer has two entry points on the western section with the major food court at its extremity. At right angles to this mall, springing off from the food court and running north, is another mall featuring Target at its beginning and Woolworths at the northern end.

The redevelopment creates a stunning curved mall springing off the western end of the existing mall (near Coles and Kmart), which then straightens to run parallel with it for its entire length. At the centre of this mall is the entrance to the new David Jones, a stunning two-level frontage, the major feature of the new court it creates.

Of course, with the inclusion of David Jones, it’s a mall showcasing the new fashion component of Westfield Carousel and it’s here no doubt the new international mini majors will be featured. More about that later!

But super-prime regionals and especially those at the heart of Perth’s two new Strategic Centres need more than just new retail; the ‘entertainment and leisure’ components bring the latest advancements in shopping centre development to Perth. At the new mall’s mid-point at Carousel is a centre court, which in turn is in line with, and linked to, the existing centre court. It opens out and soars upward to a new second level featuring a spectacular dining precinct, a collection of some 13 signature restaurants flanking the entrances to the upper level of David Jones.

It’s partly open-air and is richly landscaped, incorporating water features conforming to the ‘resort’ atmosphere and ambience that is now a signature of the Scentre Group’s design philosophy for its new centres.

This dining and restaurant precinct leads into the massive foyer of the new Hoyts Cinema complex, one of the most sophisticated in WA with the full offering of some 14 screens. It’s a total leisure level, completely separated from the rest of the retail (with the exception of David Jones second level entrance) incorporating direct access from car parking.

Travel back across the river and go north to Westfield Whitford City, located about 18 kilometres north of the Perth CBD and close to the beach – about a kilometre away from the coastline. To get a feel for Westfield Whitford City, whom it serves, what the community is all about, their lifestyles and the like, when driving there from the city, it’s a good idea to peel off the Mitchell Freeway a couple of kilometres earlier than you need to and approach the centre from the coastal route.

You reach the ocean at ‘The Breakwater’ where there’s a boat harbour; it’s all very nautical. Drive along Whitfords Avenue skirting the coastline and you’ll get the ocean, a massive expanse of beach and reserve on the western side of the road and multi-million dollar homes on the eastern. It’s got a resort feel, a holiday atmosphere – it’s a sea-and-sand lifestyle. Behind the ocean-view homes, the atmosphere is similar: spacious and well tended, with expansive houses and big lots; it’s affluent and privileged. And yet again, as a result of the Perth cap on centre expansion, the retail doesn’t reflect the region but, yet again, all that is about to change!

Westfield Whitford City has the retailers of course; it’s a centre anchored by Woolworths, Big W, Coles and Target. It’s got a wide and all-encompassing fashion mix from Noni B to Country Road, from Dotti to Esprit and nearly everything in between. All the services are there – the gifts, jewellers and accessories – but what you notice is the lack of an entertainment and leisure component. It’s a natural reaction to think it’s in another location, away from the centre – on a retail strip perhaps. Not so; the reality is that the region doesn’t have one!

Scentre Group’s two-stage redevelopment of Westfield Whitford City presents the centre with a brand new, iconic major entrance off Whitfords Avenue. Stage 1 provides a richly landscaped, resort-style restaurant and entertainment precinct incorporating 11 new restaurants, and an eight-screen Event Cinema complex comprising two Vmax, two Gold Class and four general auditoriums set around a vibrant open public space.

There is an amusement component at the basement level, housing a laser activity as well as a tenpin bowling alley.

Stage 2 adds a David Jones anchoring a new fashion precinct which will no doubt feature the more upmarket Australian designers with a focus on youth brands (‘athleisure’) to cater to this highly aspirational market. A new supermarket is planned with an extension of the fresh-food offering to include selected gourmet outlets catering to the affluent trade area. The existing centre will be remixed extensively.

Scentre Group’s centres in Perth have been champing at the bit for the last few years, needing redevelopment but stifled by the old planning laws. But there are advantages resulting from the delay. Perth itself is transitioning at a remarkable rate, with governments and authorities at all levels conducting some of the largest urban redevelopments ever undertaken in Australia.

Two of Scentre Group’s regional centres – Westfield Carousel and Westfield Innaloo – are at the epicentres of these massive projects in the two Strategic Centres. The third, Westfield Whitford City is at the heart of one of three Secondary Centres.

It is beneficial to all stakeholders that they will be redeveloped in tandem with the urban works.
The numbers, quite simply, are staggering. It’s estimated that over 550,000 residents live within a 20-minute drive from Westfield Stirling (formerly Innaloo). It’s a trade area encompassing Perth’s coastal, inner-city and north-western suburbs. Currently the Total Trade Area population is estimated at some 324,000 residents (2015), with the Main Trade Area estimated at 153,000.

Westfield Stirling, undergoing a $600-million redevelopment, will more than double in size to over 109,000m2, have a complement of over 350 stores anchored by Target, K-Mart, Coles, Big W, David Jones, Event Cinemas, and of course, several international mini-majors, and offer close to 4,000 car parks.

An investment of over a quarter of a billion dollars will see Westfield Carousel grow to over 107,000m2, with approximately 360 stores anchored by Myer, Target, K-Mart, Coles, Woolworths, David Jones, international mini-majors and a Hoyts Cinema Complex all serviced by some 4,662 car parks.

Westfield Whitford City will grow to 84,000m2, incorporating some 212 stores anchored by David Jones, Target, Big W, Woolworths and Coles and no doubt a collection of the international mini-majors. Westfield Whitford City is serviced by 3,800 car parks.

Leasing on these projects is presently at the preliminary stages and will come on full steam within the coming months. It will be interesting to see how the East Coast retailers receive these massive projects. Perth can no longer be described as simply the pleasant, somewhat romantic, yet isolated city on the far edge of Australia. The growth of China and the rest of the Asian continent has secured Perth’s future not just as a supplier of minerals, but as a significantly important capital city with massive trade links in minerals, energy, raw materials, food and wine, services, tourism and so on, to the whole of the developing world. Later this year, Perth will see non-stop flights to and from Europe, which will not only increase its tourism potential but also its foreign trade capabilities.

The international brands will understand this and will no doubt take strategic positions in the new Scentre Group developments; their vision will not be blinkered by ingrained opinions and parochial considerations. Perth is a major city on the move. With a population of 2 million, it is the fourth largest city in Australia and many on the Perth scene believe it will overtake Brisbane to become third within a decade. Over the last five years, Perth, with a 13.7% increase in population over that period, has grown faster than any other city over 100,000 in Australia, and by a long way – Melbourne, with a 10.1% increase over the last five years, is its closest rival.

The so-called ‘mining boom’ might be over but mining certainly isn’t. Perth is ripe for growth, with its population looking to spend and, more than that, they’re looking for the sort of centres they’ve seen elsewhere. The Perth market is well travelled and they are aware that their own centres have been stuck in the mire for the best part of a decade. There is an inherent demand for futuristic retail, leisure and entertainment facilities.

Scentre Group’s design and construction capabilities are second to none, not just in Australia, but anywhere in the world. The billion-dollar-plus expenditure on their Western Australian portfolio will produce leading-edge centres and provide the market with world-standard retail, leisure and entertainment facilities.

About the author

Shopping Centre News

Shopping Centre News is the leading publication for the shopping centre industry in Australia and New Zealand.

SCN is one of the most authoritative publications in the world for the shopping centre industry. Each issue contains articles on Design, Legal issues, Marketing, Leasing, Centre Management and Development. It features contributions by industry experts from around the globe. Shopping Centre News is the only publication in the world that features centre statistics on Turnover, Turnover per square meter and Specialty Shop turnover per square meter for every major centre in Australia.

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