Goodbye Concrete Gods

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by Alan West

Over the last decade, concrete has been pouring forth all over Port Philip, and the rest of Melbourne. A rapidly advancing tide of beige lava spewing from the infernal vent of the greedy developer dollar making machine.

Under the guise of “progress” and catering to the need of a rapidly growing population, developers have managed to paint themselves as the good guys in the eyes of local councils, State Gov’t and VCAT.

Allowing them to often play the game of whipping up low grade developments for top dollar. Then to take the money and run, leaving locals with the long term problems of high rise, low quality ghettos in waiting. An inordinate percentage of which have suspect inflammable cladding and poor workmanship and design.

Well all this is coming to an end.

A few years of respite is at hand. The efforts of local activism guarding the remnant character, vibrancy and old world charm of Port Phillip, is now being backed up by the mighty dollar. The profit incentive has been shaping Melbourne and now it will continue to do so in a different direction. The only thing that stops this concrete onslaught dead in it’s tracks is a downturn in the market. In Sydney and in particular Melbourne, prices are beginning to fall and the demand for apartments is waning, especially for off the plan. The tightening of bank lending to investors is also putting a drag on demand, along with overseas buyer restrictions and resistance. Softening in the market is a signal that a downturn is imminent.

For awhile this will put sway to the incessant invading hordes of developer vandals. At least for a few years, until pouring concrete once again becomes an easy earner.
It breaks my heart to see Bauhaus “neo-detention camp style” concrete bunkers rise upon the rubble of beautiful old buildings.

Currently what is occurring is the normal rolling along of the  economic cycle.

It started with rapid population increase, low interest rates, and loose bank lending. All levels of gov’t supporting rapid development as a quick fix to maintain growth after the end of the easy days of the Mining boom. The party can’t, and never does last forever.

There is good and bad for everyone in this market downturn. An opportunity will now  arise for first home buyers to take the place of investors, rents should ease and finding a place to rent may also be easier.  Fitzroy St will sag along, as it has done in the other half dozen downturns over its existence. At the moment, she is empty,  lonely and grotty. I fear a last ditch developer appearing out of nowhere. Selling a “visionary” solution of bringing in people to Fitzroy St by going eight stories all the way to the beach. Something residents and council could easily fall for, but in reality just another quick “take the money and run” deal.  Leaving Fitzroy St as a concrete canyon to the bay. Still empty and lonely, just like the Docklands around Vic Harbour.

There are a couple of local, last to leave the party, concrete stragglers in the pipe line that could see the light of day, the 26 stories at St Kilda junction and the Novotel remake. Hopefully that’s about it for the immediate future.   

So, it’s good night to the concrete gods for now,

Alan West

www.friendsofstkilda.com.au

Further reading:

https://www.domain.com.au/news/melbourne-apartments-face-resale-issues-as-experts-report-saturation-of-stock-20180417-h0ywhn/

https://www.domain.com.au/money-markets/are-economists-saying-the-sydney-and-melbourne-property-booms-are-busting-not-really-20180625-h11ta2-441405/

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