Sydney’s moving & shaking property

A street level view of tomorrow's must-visit cultural precincts

With enthusiasm for Sydney property seemingly indestructible, a new wave of activity is sweeping through the inner-city. First-timers, changeover-buyers and investors all want a piece of the action. But where will the smart money go?

Sure, we can look at growth rates and rental yields. But above all, there are people — movers and shakers — transforming their neighbourhoods with tomorrow’s must-visit haunts, and propagating new micro-markets along the way. This is where future value will be unearthed, the trick is knowing how to find it.

To get you started, here are 3 pockets worth getting amongst, and why.

Chippendale

“If you think of New York’s Chelsea district,” says architect William Smart, “you’ll come pretty close to understanding the pocket of Chippendale anchored around Kensington Street. There is an incredible energy, and a desire for excellence in these parts, it’s extremely exciting.”

Smart should know — he designed the genre-bending White Rabbit Gallery, on neighbouring Balfour Street, as well as the interiors of Jean Nouvel’s Central Park apartment complex. But the most thrilling new development in this precinct is the Old Clare Hotel on Kensington Street.

Upping the style ante, the Old Clare bows to the district’s rather raunchy past, while thrusting it into a more glamorous future. Housed in the former Carlton & United Brewery building, the 62-room hotel will not only be a place for visitors to stay, but also a hangout for locals. With a rooftop pool and slick eateries, it’s set to have all the allure of East London’s Shoreditch House, or New York’s Soho House. She’ll be ready to open her doors later this year.

Old Clare hotspots in the making:

Automata — helmed by Clayton Wells (formerly of Momofuku).

Silvereye — under the control of Sam Miller (formerly of Noma, Copenhagen, World’s Best Restaurant according to the judges at S. Pellegrino).

Kensington Street Social — under the eagle eye of British bad boy, Jason Atherton.

So why should home-hunters care? This food precinct is set to tilt Sydney’s cultural axis towards the inner west. The once uninspiring line between Inner East and West is being reinvigorated.

This is more than the ‘wow’ of new cafes. We’re talking cultural institutions. And that breeds new value.

Enmore

No longer aspiring to be Newtown, Enmore has stepped out of the shadows. To food critic Terry Durack, Enmore “is increasingly the Brooklyn to Sydney’s Manhattan”. It’s where grit still kicks charm in the ass. Osteria di Russo & Russo has become a nucleus, with the swinging small bar scene giving Enmore wider appeal.

Young Henry’s know all about it, brewing beer at the base of an old grain silo, they’re now part of the area’s proud identity. Their brews are served all across Enmore Road — in pubs with evocative monikers like The Secret Garden or The Stinking Bishop. It’s a neighbourhood in transition, and a place in which to get a toehold now.

“I saw the potential for growth in this neighbourhood,” says Andrei Meintjes, whose Collectika warehouse on Enmore Road showcases the very best of mid-century modern design. “It’s got more grit than the King Street stretch of Newtown.” Plenty of locals would raise a Young Henry’s to that.

Erskineville

Erskineville Road village is the poster child for the mid-century Aussie strip mall — an intriguing corridor of ferociously independent businesses that pump the lifeblood into the area.

“It’s an interesting neighbourhood,” says Linda Gregoriou, owner operator of Pure & General lifestyle store. “It is right in the process of being gentrified, repurposed with precision and taste.” She points to the council street plantings, the brickwork of the curbs, and the many micro-parks — former block-through properties that have been bequeathed to the Erko Council for public use, as signs of a true community spirit. “It feels like Woollhara, twenty years ago,” Linda says.

But down the road from Erko village, is Swanson Street and its vibrant enclave facing Erskineville Park with its fantastic Aussie Deco stadium. This is where the Swanson Hotel opened just a month ago, the relooking of the old Kurrajong pub. Now all old cigar and cognac tones, it’s gentle manly in the best possible way. An old dog, yet still learning new tricks.

There we have three neighbourhoods on the move. Three diverse ways of living in the city. Three pockets offering new value.

Don’t get caught in the headlights. The energy across inner Sydney is unmistakable, but the smartest buying always takes a little more perception.

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