What to do with St Kilda Road…

St Kilda Road is currently in the midst of an apartment development wave – it’s second in the last 20 years.

Plenty of new landmarks, including 401 St Kilda Road, 505 St Kilda Road, Chevron and new developments by Sunland, Macquarie and Lustig & Moar, are expected to dot the boulevard’s skyline by the end of 2008.

But will the core problems that let St Kilda Road down in the 1990s, let it down again?

I lived on St Kilda Road for about five years, somewhere in the period between its initial boom (early/mid 1990s), and its latest boom (2004-on). I was much closer to the St Kilda end, than I was to the South Yarra end.

It was convenient to public transport into town, but I thought lacked a liveability – or an inviting character.

A walk to Chapel Street, Fitzroy Street or Clarendon Street (my three closest “community strips”) was still a half hour, which was strangely more than it walking to Burke Road or Glenferrie Road, when I lived in the eastern suburbs.

The shops that actually were on St Kilda Road, were pretty disappointing – B-grade takeaway shops, soul-less cafes at the bottom of new developments.

I thought the quality of immediate retail amenity mismatched the demographic that lived there.

I’d be interested to see today – with plenty of $2m plus penthouse sales (and a massive $10 million penthouse sale at Ubertas Group’s 505 St Kilda Road, as well as an $8.6 million sale at 401 St Kilda Road) – what will become of St Kilda Road’s ground level retail space in the future.

One planner I spoke to years ago likened St Kilda Road to Paris’ Champs-Elysees, and spoke of a day ground floor retail will be occupied by fancy cafes, boutique shops and maybe even exclusive car dealerships.

He seemed to think it could work, and in many ways I hope it does (just so we as a community can not feel TOO bad for demolishing some beautiful St Kilda Road mansions to make way for an office strip).

Is anybody reading this, considering moving to St Kilda Road – and what “lifestyle” amenity is it driving you there? If you’re a resident, what have you noticed about the changing face of the boulevard over the last few years.

What can we do to make St Kilda Road a world class apartment-focussed boulevard?

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.