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Melbourne’s coolest streets

The Age Saturday Domain

The Age Saturday Domain
Saturday 27th, 2014
By Emily Power

As the spring market heats up, it’s the real estate in Melbourne’s coolest locations that is on many buyers’ most wanted list.

It’s not enough to just visit to party and shop along uber trendy strips like Smith Street in Collingwood and Church Street in Brighton, lined with designer boutiques, cultural haunts, bars that pump after dark and cafes with a wait for a table at Sunday brunch.

A range of buyers from different walks of life want to sleep and breathe these locations – surprisingly, it’s not always a younger house hunter that desires to be close to the action.

But with a limited number of homes along these major streets, properties about 100 to 200 metres off the strip, in side streets, have just as much cachet and are as just as much in demand.

Like the queue to get in to the chic wine bar nearby, these properties command crowds at open for inspections.

What gives a location cool factor? Agents say the coolest streets for real estate have a convenient mix of retail, like galleries, grocers and emerging designer boutiques – negating the need to venture to the city or a shopping centre – restaurants and cafes with top reputations, and public transport so getting to the central business district is a breeze.

The mix creates a haven for time poor professionals and empty nesters reclaiming their lifestyle after kids have left home.

Nelson Alexander auctioneer Arch Staver, who sells properties in the hip Fitzroy/Brunswick/Carlton/Northcote axis, said buyers want a property that is a short walk to where they like to relax with eggs and coffee on a weekend.

He described the area as having a “downtown vibe” and said that young creative types setting up cutting-edge businesses has shaped Gertrude Street and Brunswick Street in Fitzroy in to the super-trendy spots they are today.

However, this same demographic that are credited with creating the cool are being priced out of buying by retirees or older couples whose children who have moved out of home who want in on the action.

Prices commanded by homes on High Street in Northcote, famous for its pubs and live music venues, are starting to be achieved at the Preston and Thornbury end. One end of the street becomes cool, and the trickle-down effect is natural.

Andrew Fawell, director of Beller Group, said Carlisle Street in St Kilda, with its eclectic retail, and the more hipster part of Chapel Street – a counter to the slick and sassy South Yarra end – has had a popularity boom.

He said the Carlisle precinct still offered affordability for buyers with bohemian tastes, whereas the boom Acland Street had become prohibitive for new buyers. “The South Yarra end of Chapel Street is in vogue but Windsor is the cool end now,” he said.

“We have seen it evolve over 20 years, with the change of retailers. There is the train station and it’s striking distance to St Kilda and Albert Park. It has become a bit of an arts precinct now – David Bromley has set up his gallery.

“The time poor are after a quality of life at their doorstep.”

Kendall Bares, agent from Hocking Stuart in Albert Park, said Coventry Street has become a hot zone for younger buyers who cannot afford to live on or very near to Victoria Avenue – the extension of the happening Bridport Street strip – or St Vincent Place, where some of Melbourne’s most expensive and tightly held real estate is found.

Tips on buying property in hip zones

  • Properties on bustling strips means greater noise factor, so look at whether it has double glazed windows or high-fences.
  • Homes located bang on hip strips are in limited supply, but properties in side streets – less than 200m from the action – deliver the same lifestyle perks and are more plentiful.
  • Buying a cool street or just off it can be a shrewd investment as young professionals who cannot yet afford to purchase in the area will be keen to rent.
  • Cool zones have an eclectic mix of up-and-coming retail, so research to see what’s on offer.
  • The cool factor has a trickle-down effect, so consider homes at the ‘other’ end of trendy strips, like the Preston part of High Street (Northcote has already taken off) or the Brunswick East end of Lygon Street.
  • Limited or no off-street parking can be a drawback of living in an area where residential collides with retail and cafes.

The cool list

  • Church St, Brighton
  • St Georges Road, Fitzroy North
  • Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
  • Brunswick Street Fitzroy
  • Smith Street, Collingwood
  • High Street, Northcote/Thornbury/Preston
  • Acland Street, St Kilda
  • Carlisle Street, St Kilda/Balaclava
  • Rathdowne St, Carlton
  • Lygon Street, Brunswick East
  • Anderson St, Yarraville
  • Greville Street, Prahran
  • Chapel Street, Windsor
  • Victoria Avenue (extension of Bridport St), Albert Park
  • Coventry Street, South Melbourne

Properties you may like…

8/187 Weston Street, Brunswick East
$1.2 million
Just 80m from Lygon Street, the new owner can take a of pick of nearby bars, pubs and celebrity chef George Calombaris’ popular Hellenic Republic. The architecturally designed three-level has the luxury of both a balcony and a terrace, and three bedrooms, including master with en suite and walk-in robe. Private sale.
Little Projects, 0423 704 848



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