Where does suburbia fit into the Perth equation?

PropertyESP recently attended the PIA State Conference which was aptly termed “Rocking the suburbs.”

Minister Rita Saffioti opened the conference and posed the question – does every suburb wish to be rocked and went on to explain that in the East, the focus in the 1990’s was all about the inner ring and that suburbs were seen nearly as a second class choice.

In contrast – Perth is the exact opposite – even some 27 years on.

Our population growth certainly has been part of the reason for this evolution with some residents happy to travel over an hour into the City for work while living in our burgeoning outer suburbs.  This is true regardless of age.

But what is evident in the Eastern States, is that now, some three decades later, the inner city is reserved solely for the wealthy.

Interestingly 83% of lawyers work in our CBD, 62% engineers, 39% white collar professionals and 26% health workers – however this is not reflected in their choice of housing suburb.

This is partially because house sizes have not declined drastically and yet the range of housing choices in the CBD continues to cater for 1-2 person households.

The Minister therefore believes that we will see a shift whereby suburbia will become more like business districts and the City will evolve into an amenity district.  This certainly aligns with their Metronet model.

At PropertyESP we believe that Perth will follow the same pattern as the East, with the CBD becoming a desired location over the next decade.  But first we need to see greater choice of housing and added amenities such as schools in order to cater to a broader cross section of the community.

But on the tail of that, there are many suburbs that were established in the 1970’s to 90’s that really do lack any sense of pulse and hence in order to retain their residents, their Councils will also need to be progressive in the provision of services and development of community spirit.

There is no doubt that Perth is in a flux of change and as a result of significant investment in the inner CBD and key suburban shopping centres, we will see the rise of preferred suburbs over the next 5-10 years.  But that also means that there will be many suburbs that languish.

The question is, are the LGA’s prepared to rock the boat and their suburbs and evolve with WA’s changing needs?

 

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Appetite for change is on the horizon

PropertyESP recently attended the Perth Cities Summit co-ordinated by John Carey Member for Perth.  With over 350 people in attendance, everyone was seated randomly and provided with 35 ideas that had been derived from the previous workshops hosted in Northbridge, East Perth and West Perth.

These ideas included a variety of themes which aligned with PropertyESP’s agenda including:

  • Revitalise Heirisson Island as an indigenous cultural hub
  • Create Renew Perth to activate vacant properties
  • Ensure a full year long events and activation plan for the City
  • Establish the role of Night Czar or Mayor to drive night time economy
  • Facilitate the construction of a cable car from Elizabeth Quay to Kings Park
  • Cut red tape around use of the Swan River to create more life and vibrancy
  • Establish Perth as a canopy city
  • Abolish al fresco and street activation fees for small business

However at the end of the session the top five areas which the attendees chose included:

  • Partner with Noongar people to recognise indigenous culture and history in the City (33%)
  • Establish Perth as a canopy city (21%)
  • Create Renew Perth to activate vacant properties (19%)
  • Set an ambitious population target backed by innovative planning (17.8%)
  • Establish Perth with clear community precincts backed with precinct planning (9.2%)

While the final results have not been released – it was clear from a number of people on our table, and the panel, that there was a need for action rather than ongoing planning which only ultimately creates inaction.

And as Marion Faulkner from Committee of Perth stated, we as a city need to embrace a state of mind that is can-do.

The fact is, 350 people attended a session on a Saturday morning because we are passionate about change – and change for the better.  But in fact all of us need to now invest in our City – if not with financial contributions then at least our energy.

And now is the premium time with the suite of infrastructure projects that will be delivered in 2018.

PropertyESP urges the people of Perth to no longer be passive – but rather passionate about how Perth can grow – and how we can catalyst change.  The question is – are you up for the challenge?

 

 

Night time economy part of WA’s future

With all the inner city development occurring, a colleague of PropertyESP recently attended the Australian Night Time Economy (NTE) conference in Melbourne.

This conference dealt with the fact that the night time economy, which for so long has been associated with bars, restaurants and adult entertainment in fact was evolving and in the UK this economy represented $66 billion in trade alone (or 6% of GDP).

Closer to home, Brisbane’s NTE grew by 25.2% from 2009-2014 from $4.97 billion to $6.231 billion.

With changing work habits, multicultural diversity and in fact a 24 hour global clock, we are less and less inclined to think that night time is just for hedonistic activities.

But this means that if we want to transform some of our City into true night time economies we need to think across planning, place making and regulation.

This means that we need to consider pop up markets in car parks.  And temporary installations. And be more liberal with parklets.

This also means that we need to entwine our fashion, food and entertainment outlets and more so be open for custom.

That means that sometimes we have to take a risk and in fact subsidise these concepts to allow for creativity and sense of destination.

With so many areas undergoing rejuvenation in Perth at present – this is the perfect breeding ground for innovative night time solutions.

The question is – are we going to seize this opportunity?

The team at PropertyESP dare you too!  The time is certainly ripe for disruption!

Desire for East Perth to gain 24/7 heartbeat

Samantha Reece recently attended the East Perth session of the Cities Summit that has been co-ordinated by Member for Perth John Carey.

Over 60 people attended this session which comprised of businesses, developers, residents and interested parties.

Quite predictably the session dealt with the areas strengths, its problems and what the community would like to see occur.

East Perth was liked because of its walkability, the gardens and open spaces, Claisebrook Cove and the fact that the area felt calm and relaxed.  In particular the residents enjoyed the fact that while they were living in the City it felt like they were in fact residing in a suburb.

However, there were certainly rumblings about the impact of foot traffic once the Stadium was completed and inexplicably this turned into concerns about safety.

But what was very clear was that East Perth has a Monday-Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm heartbeat and hence outside these times East Perth appears somewhat of a ghost town.

Some of the residents however enjoyed this low profile stating that they could travel to Northbridge and Perth for their entertainment.  But this tends to fly in the face of what a TOD (and that is the basis for East Perth) is all about.

There was a sense that East Perth was missing small bars and night activation and that the vacant business premises detracted from the overall vitality.

The community certainly wanted to activate the area around Perth Mint and also turn Wellington Square into a pleasant space to recreate in – rather than avoiding it all costs.

The audience talked about movies in the park, markets at the WACCA car park, setting up pop up shops in the vacant premises and overall a more cultural atmosphere.

This obviously has a cost factor associated with these activation strategies and while John Carey may be seeking the City to hire a place maker for East Perth – it also needs people.  There is no doubt that East Perth has been undercooked for density – like Subiaco – but this is an aspect that can be rectified as we move forward.

With the Stadium due for completion in 2018 this will certainly increase flow through traffic – but will they in fact stay and recreate in East Perth?  And this is very much the issue of the chicken and egg scenario.  Do you create the amenity so that people stay – or do you wait for the crowd and then create the activation?

Either way – there are some real opportunities for East Perth on its horizon and this community can either embrace it – or turn their back on it.  But from the conversation we observed, there is a real desire to turn East Perth into a 24/7 destination and that will take input from all parties and not just a place maker hired by the City of Perth!

Fremantle’s vision continues to grow

Fremantle has been in the news lately with the recent announcement of the $250 million Kings Square project now being a physical reality.

But after Samantha Reece attended the official launch of the “Oval to the Ocean” function, which was hosted by the City last night, we have come to the realisation that Fremantle is setting its sights even further afield.

In the last two years the City has attracted $500 million of investment including the Heirloom apartments ($60 million), Knutsford St apartments ($18 million), Atwell Arcade ($7 million), MSC Building ($8 million) and Quest apartments ($15 million).

But with the Ovation of the Seas docking yesterday for the first time in the Fremantle Harbour, the Council is now keen to refurbish the outdated passenger terminal and create an attractive entrance for visitors into the town centre.

Currently being used as a car park for imported vehicles, the City has recognised that they are wasting prime real estate within South Quay and have set 2029 as its date to celebrate not only the bicentenary of the establishment of the Swan Colony but also the launch of this new precinct.

Predicting private investment of $3.5 billion and 3700 new jobs, the City is both ambitious and proactive for South Quay and in this climate, that is the ideal mix.

In conjunction the City has prioritised the Fremantle Oval and Hospital precinct and a master plan is under way with the intent to host sporting and community events all year round, as well as establish a WAFL Centre for Excellence.

It appears that Mayor Brad Pettitt and his Council are seeking to restore Fremantle to its heyday of the Americas Cup and quite frankly, it is long overdue.

The City has been strategic with approving apartments to house another 4000 residents within its CBD and this will increase its discretionary spend from $11 million to $70 million and this will only bolster the local businesses as well as economic prosperity.

This City not only has a vision – but it is actually fulfilling it – and for that we wish to commend the staff and Councillors.  It takes guts and determination to move a community forward with such momentum and the City of Fremantle is demonstrating that in the right climate anything is possible.

If you are wanting more information than contact the City directly – they have made it quite clear that they are open for business and this proactive approach is very refreshing indeed!

The Springs shows robust results

It seems that not everyone is as much of a fan of The Springs in Rivervale as PropertyESP is and so we conducted an analysis of settled sales from January 2014 – June 2016 to just work out what was really happening in this location.

Looking at 348 sales in that 2.5 year period there were a number of positive points that we felt should be brought to light.

By far the two bedroom sales have been ahead of one bedroom, with 2 bedroom apartments representing 55% of sales in 2014, then 60% in 2015 and 77% in the first half of 2016.  This compared to one bedroom sales of 45%, 40% and then 23% for the same correlating periods.  This could be heavily influenced though by what is on offer.

Over the two year period, median sales price for the apartments in The Springs has been $501,000 and price per square metre of $4910.

One bedroom sales achieved a median sales price of $420,000 and two bedroom $538,000.  Despite this price variation, when you compare price per sqm it is evident that the two bedroom apartments achieve the price they do, purely based on size.

Between 2014-2015 one bedroom prices only fell by 6% while two bedroom apartments fell by just 2%.  This was also reflected in the price per square metre results.

There was also a small price premium for those properties located opposite green space and the river over those located further away.

However, just like Scarborough, The Springs is completely vanilla in its offering.  The majority of apartments sold were 2 bedroom or 1 bedroom apartments. 97% of the sales were of apartments where the apartment complex had an outdoor entertaining area and 90% a gym and pool.  As such, having the amenities such as gym, pool or entertaining area had no influence over the price per square metre between the projects.

With the area already offering a large number of apartments, any new entrants should be considering alternative amenities as well as various bedroom configurations in order to provide a distinctive point of difference.

While The Springs appears to be weathering the current market with a degree of robustness, it is evident that in order to stand out from the crowd, incoming developers need to be more creative in their offering.

It will certainly be interesting to see how The Springs evolves over the next 12 months with the opening of the 4.5 star Aloft hotel and then the stadium in 2018.

Regardless, this is a location which is sought after due to its proximity to the river, freeway, airport, stadium and casino and on that basis is a precinct to be closely monitored over the next 18 months.

Car parks vs infill (the debate continues)

Samantha Reece attended the recent Committee for Perth luncheon where Dr Julian Bolleter of Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC) tested the idea of finding room for density.

Dr Bolleter stated that from 2001 – 2010 Perth had seen the clearance of 351 hectares of land to make way for greenfields development, something that many will argue is simply not sustainable.

But Dr Bolleter provided some other alternatives for accommodating our growing population, which really were quite eye opening.

As he stated, 20% of the Perth suburban core are backyards which equates to 132sqm/person.  In the UK this figure is 75sqm/person.  If the Perth suburban core was to reduce our backyards to 75sqm/person we could accommodate 115,000 new infill homes.

Dr Bolleter then spoke about the fact that 12% of the Perth suburban core is asphalt, which represents 78sqm/person.  These represent car parks and the like.  In Manhattan this ratio is 9sqm/person.  If Perth was just to reduce this ratio to 64sqm/person than this could accommodate 203,000 new infill dwellings.

Freeway reserves represent 20sqm/person and if we could reduce this to 16sqm/person this would accommodate 50,000 new dwellings.  And as Dr Bolleter stated, if we made these light industrial areas, this could generate 95,000 new jobs and allow for the development of affordable housing where people can work and live in the one precinct.

And finally Dr Bolleter examined the golf courses.  At present there is 14sqm/person of golf courses in the core suburban area but when you look at the Mt Lawley golf course, its membership base of 1000 represents 900sqm/member.  With golf club memberships declining, and a golf course in the USA shutting its doors every 48 hours, this is certainly something that could be considered for density.

As Dr Bolleter stated, if we could reduce the golf course ration to 7sqm/person this alone would accommodate another 86,000 infill dwellings.

At the end of the day, it is obvious that there are opportunities to accommodate more houses and people in our city, we just need to be prepared to think outside the box and we were very grateful for Dr Bolleter’s insights and the chance to change our paradigm of thought!

Whilst some of Dr Bolleter’s suggestions would impact on Perth’s declining green space and tree coverage, an already acknowledged issue, rethinking our use of space could open up residential and employment opportunities … and create the demand needed for improved public transport – something that is also essential to Perth’s growth.

What do you think about this concept?