On any given night at Scarborough last week, families could be seen enjoying live music and theatre at a foreshore pop-up bar, young couples were perched on the grass watching the sun go down and friends were meeting for drinks at a beachfront pub.
Change is afoot along the much-maligned foreshore, with the promise of a $60 million re- development luring retailers and proprietors into grabbing prime real estate and breathing new life into neglected, empty buildings.
Though the Metropolitan Re- development Authority will not take planning control until April, its chief executive Kieran Kinsella said there was already a great deal of enthusiasm about the precinct's potential.
At least six bars and cafes have opened in the past few months, with others - including multimillion-dollar resort-style beach club Matisse - on the horizon.
Ben Randall, whose family run the Paddington Ale House in Mt Hawthorn, took over the Torch Bar and neighbouring restaurant Zanders in August, renaming Zanders The Sandbar.
Mr Randall, a Scarborough local, opened a bar there as soon as the redevelopment got the green light and said both locals and those further afield were returning to the area.
"People who have stayed away for years are coming back to Scarborough and they can't recognise it," he said. "It should have happened 10 years ago when things became stagnant but now the right people are behind it everyone's so excited."
Across from The Sandbar is another new arrival, The Shack, and the family behind The Generous Squire in central Perth will also soon move into the area.
Danny Kapinkoff's bar Squires Landing is proposed for the old Stamford Arms site within the Rendezvous hotel complex and will focus on craft beer and alfresco dining with sea views.
His sons Adam and Robert will run the bar and Adam said the family had been waiting for an opportunity in Scarborough.
"With the Lookout and the Stamford Arms, it was really busy in the 1990s and then it slipped … it got run down and there was no investment. It got a bad reputation," he said.
Small changes, such as lighting and CCTV cameras, are appearing and the beach is hosting the sixth Summerset arts festival.
For the first time, a pop-up bar, the Sunset Veranda, has appeared on the lawn and City of Stirling arts and events leader Glenn Watson hoped it would become an annual summer fixture.
The ultimate goal was to host something as big as Fringe World currently on in the CBD.
The MRA will take planning control of the 100ha redevelopment after Scarborough hosts the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships in April.
Mr Kinsella said the MRA was working on its master plan, aided by 3000 public survey responses.
With the MRA involved, he said it sent a signal of positive change and that made people enthusiastic. They would see the area in a different light.
Mr Kinsella said the major goal was to create a family-friendly space with public art, retail and dining areas to visit all year.