Gentrification sees Northcote become Melbourne’s second most valuable inner-northern suburb

An outdoor area of Palace Cinema’s Westgarth Theatre.

Talk about gentrification and its effects on Melbourne property prices – and it won’t be long until the suburb of Northcote comes up.

For generations until recently a working-class area, Northcote carries a median house price of $1.5 million according to recent data – even more than neighbouring Fitzroy North, which is closer to the city (but where the average house sells for $1.48 million).

In fact, Northcote values are second only to Parkville in the Melbourne’s north, according to June 2018 statistics by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.

Melbourne’s inner-north is deemed to include suburbs from Carlton through to Coburg’s Bell Street – this thoroughfare sometimes called the “tofu curtain” or “hipster-proof fence” because the bohemians which drive the local property markets don’t want to live on the other side of it.

The popularity of Northcote by buyers and renters has seen large local and international developers invest there, in recent years.

Malaysia-backed Beulah International recently paid $13 million for a site in Cunningham Street, earmarked for a planned medium-density housing project.

Chip Eng Seng, which is based in listed on the Singapore stock exchange, paid $27 million in 2015 for a factory on 1.8 hectares in Separation Street, mooted for flats.

Pace Development Group, which is headquartered in St Kilda, has just completed an apartment project on High Street containing 114 dwellings – three quarters of which sold off-the-plan in the first few months of a marketing campaign.

In 2016, the record price of a residential home in Northcote was broken several times (at the end of that year, a home on Cunningham Street sold for $4.3 million – a price which still hasn’t been surpassed).

But demand for Northcote real estate was bubbling for a few years before then. In 2012, a buyer paid $1.4 million for a Northcote home which sold just six months earlier for $850,000.

Helix Northcote

“Cafes, restaurants, shops, parks and enchanting residential streets” are amongst the reasons Adepto Co director David Tricarico says Northcote is recognised as one of Melbourne’s most vibrant suburbs.

Public transport makes it convenient too, he adds. Northcote has five train stations along two lines, an extensive tram network, and bike paths. It is six kilometres from the Melbourne CBD.

“Northcote’s central shopping plaza along with the abundance of boutique bars, pubs, shops and even an upscale cinema on High St has boosted its attraction with another dimension of buyers,” Mr Tricarico says.

The townhomes offer an internal area of between 20 and 27 square.

Adepto Co is a boutique developer which, since establishing in 2010, has focused on creating medium density homes for generational living, targeted to owner-occupiers.

It will launch its Helix of Northcote project this month.

“Helix is a unique development for Northcote located in the highly desired Westgarth precinct which consists of five triple storey town homes, each with street frontage and individual driveway and garages.

“These oversized town homes will range from 20-27 squares and are designed to accommodate young growing families, professional couples and downsizers”.

They are priced from $1.35 million to $1.7 million.

In 2010 the suburbs of Northcote and Maribyrnong topped a report for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute at Swinburne and Monash universities: Gentrification and Displacement: The Household Impacts of Neighbourhood Change.

The paper acknowledged that residents in both communities earned less than the metropolitan average prior to 1996 when a dramatic shift saw groups such as lawyers, and university graduates move in amongst the retirees, labourers, tradespeople and students.

Mr Tricarico agrees, saying that young professionals, families and the highly-educated middle aged market are behind the surge in the suburb’s price increases.

“It’s no surprise that Northcote’s median price for both houses and units has boomed in recent years, its popularity is set to only increase,” he says.

 

Out with the old, in with the new

 

Glenvill replaced the Joshua Pitt site with The Cotery townhouse and apartment complex.

Former Joshua Pitt Tannery, Gadd Street

• Manufacturing ceased in 2003 after 121 years
• Following a land rezoning, the site sold to Glenvill Homes which replaced it with 123 townhouses and 53 apartments. Two bedroom townhouses have recently sold for upwards of $700,000.

 

Former Northcote Brickworks

• With roots starting in 1866, the former Northcote brickworks operated on and off until 1977 when it was sold to the Northcote Council for use as a tip.
• In 1981, Northcote Plaza was constructed on part of the site where kilns stood.
• The former quarry, which operated as a tip between 1998 and 2002, was replaced with the All Nations Park
• In 2009, Acacia On the Park, one of Melbourne’s first “suburban high rise apartment projects” was built

 

Northcote Central

Northcote Central

• In 2017, a consortium paid $34 million for the tired Northcote Central shopping centre at the north-east corner of High and Separation streets, a complex which replaced the Carters Arms Hotel.
• The property was marketed for its potential to be replaced with a mixed-use complex containing high rise apartments.

 

Site where Batman’s Treaty is thought to have been signed

• A 5018 square metre site near to the Rushall Train station, where local elder Chief Billibellary lived, is believed by historians and the local council to be where the (voided) Batman’s Treaty was signed.
• This holding at 2A and 2B Cunningham Street sold last year – the marketing agents touting the land’s Residential 1 zoning for its potential to be replaced with a medium density housing project.

 

Former Northcote Cable Tramways

• In March, a developer paid $9 million for the Northcote Cable Tramways site, which is actually in Thornbury.
• Painted green for years prior selling, the marketing agents promoted this 2409 sqm site with concept plans for a mixed-use complex which would build into the airspace. A developer recently completed construction of a seven storey apartment building at 630 High Street, which is next door to the tramways site.

 

Median  Median
Suburb  House value Unit value
Parkville $2,240,000 $670,000
Northcote $1,500,000 $604,000
Fitzroy North $1,480,000 $719,000
Fitzroy $1,450,000 $680,000
Carlton North $1,410,000 $695,000
Clifton Hill $1,410,000 $950,000
North Melbourne $1,360,000 $578,000
Thornbury $1,300,000 $715,000
Abbotsford $1,290,000 $568,000
Brunswick East $1,280,000 $470,000
Carlton $1,230,000 $606,000
Brunswick $1,160,000 $590,000
Preston $1,101,000 $600,000
Brunswick West $1,100,000 $500,000
Collingwood $1,100,000 $577,000
Pascoe Vale South $1,100,000 $700,000
Coburg North $995,000 $668,000
Pascoe Vale $971,000 $626,000
Coburg $963,000 $640,000
Reservoir $821,000 $578,000
Glenroy $762,000 $565,000
Fawkner $750,000 $510,000
Source: REIV June 2018

Suburbs north-east and north-west of the city, including Alphington, Ascot Vale and Moonee Ponds are off the hipster radar according to agents – and not included in this list. It is worth noting however that Northcote’s median house price is higher than most north-western suburbs, but not Aberfeldie, a riverside pocket of Essendon.

Marc Pallisco

A freelance property writer and analyst, Marc is a co-founder of realestatesource.com.au.

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