City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas has lauded the Forrest empire’s plans for Carillon City, revealing the development will include student accommodation as part of a university-centric city vision.

Speaking at a CEO Institute event in Perth this afternoon, Mr Zempilas stressed the importance of students to the future vibrancy of the CBD and revealed he had seen Fiveight’s plans for the run-down CBD mall.  

He confirmed a rumour that the development would include student accommodation.

Labelling the plans “groundbreaking, world-class and something all our city can embrace”, the Lord Mayor said the complex redevelopment project was in the right hands.

“I will say that when the Forrest family purchased the Carillon site, we were tremendously pleased because it is a difficult, complex site,” he said.

“It is an extraordinary difficult demolition, and then an equally difficult reconstruction.

“Fortunately for everyone in Perth, they saw the potential and the desire to take that unloved piece of our city right in the heart of it – and it’s a huge chunk – that holds that part of our city back.

“Carillon’s a massive redevelopment that will include huge open space, public art, student accommodations, premium retail – all those sorts of things you see on the best of their kind anywhere in the world.”

Fiveight, which is the property arm of Tattarang, purchased Carillon for $80.5 million from developer Dexus – which bought the building for $140 million in late 2016 and had plans for a $200 million redevelopment of the building approved in 2019.

Its plans for the space have been tightly held, but when the deal settled the group’s now chief investment officer John Meredith said it had big plans for the precinct.

“We are planning a transformative redevelopment for the Carillon City site that positions Perth as a world-class leader in modern retail and experiential destinations,” he said. 

Fiveight has been contacted for comment.

Mr Zempilas’ comments were made in the context of a broader conversation around the construction of the student accommodation in the CBD – which he described as the “lifeblood of our city” in the years ahead.

The ECU city campus at Yagan Square is expected to bring 8,000 students to the city each day from the first quarter of 2026.

Mr Zempilas said the capacity to house those students would be a game-changer for the CBD.

“It means those people are staying in the city 24/7, it means they’re working in the city, getting odd jobs in restaurants or cafes or shops or in any of the other things you can get an odd job out in the city,” he said.

“It means they’re recreating in the city, it means they’re spending in the city.”

Vibrancy was a key point of the Lord Mayor and WA Liberal candidate for Churchlands’ off-the-cuff speech.

Mr Zempilas praised the state’s initiative in securing one-off events, like tonight’s Series A friendly football match at Optus Stadium, but said the longer-term vision was missing.

He said events like the WWE Elimination Chamber event, the Coldplay concert and tonight’s AS Roma vs AC Milan friendly at Optus Stadium were “tremendous” in the short term.

“They’re great events, but what we really need to take the next step is a world-class, lock it in your calendar, come back at the same time every year event,” he said.

“You can’t plan for Coldplay coming every… once in whenever when it gets announced, three weeks before, but if a Grand Prix, or an event of that sort of nature is in our calendar and locked away for 10 years, then guess what – then you can build the event around the event.”

The Lord Mayor said Adelaide’s recent success in attracting the AFL’s Gather Round and the LIV Golf tour as an example of events the state had missed out on.

“It’s so easy to say you can’t get those events,” he said.

“Well, Adelaide just found or created two of them. And it’s true that we’ve missed – so where’s the next one?”

Mr Zempilas also touched on his state political ambitions, praising the McGowan government for making the most of the WA-centric attitudes which prevailed around the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The isolation, that fierce parochialism, all of those things, they tapped into that, and the byproduct because they did keep us pretty safe,” he said.

“They built that incredible strength that we are now seeing the Labor government enjoy.”

Mr Zempilas said he was motivated on the state level to bring balance back to the parliament if elected for the “blue team”.