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The growing appeal of Melbourne’s inner west

Jarrod McCabe talks with local, Brenton Potter

 

Melbourne’s inner western suburbs have come a long way since the rough working class stereotypes in days gone past.

The region has been on a steady path of gentrification over the last decades; and is now a trendy in-demand area, featuring world class coffee, culture and community spaces.

Wakelin Property Advisory’s, Brenton Potter has had first hand experience of the inner west’s rise up the property market ranks, both personally and professionally.

Brenton grew up in Oak Park and worked as a real estate agent around Flemington and Kensington prior moving into property advisory in the western and northwestern suburbs. He previously lived in Maidstone; and is now set to move into his freshly renovated cottage in Footscray with his wife.

 

Brenton, what is it about Melbourne’s western suburbs that makes them so appealing?

I think the appeal for me first started when I started working in real estate around Flemington and Kensington. I saw the village lifestyle residents experience on a day to day basis. I really wanted to buy in those areas, but by 2010, I was priced out. However, Footscray was still affordable for us at the time, so we were able to get a foothold in the area. I really like the Victorian cottages in the area. So that was certainly a big reason for the appeal also.

 

You’ve been in the western and northwestern suburbs for a long period, what changes have you seen over the last 20 odd years, which have propelled its gentrification?  

The development in the late 90s and early 2000s of the Docklands had a big impact. It resulted in an influx of white collar jobs being based there, which made the west an attractive prospect for workers, due to its close proximity and affordability.

Another major driver was the City Link Freeway, which made the west more accessible by providing a link to the city and south eastern suburbs.

Another was the revival of the Sun Theatre in the 90s, which really lifted Yarraville Village’s appeal and elevated it as an entertainment destination.

Over the years, the council has been steadily introducing more open green spaces in the area, as well as more communal spaces, which has definitely added a lot to the community, and improved the livability and lifestyle components of the area.

 

What about changes in more recent times?

When I originally moved into Footscray, I remember trying to find a good cafe or a decent pub, but found myself getting pulled back to Flemington, Kensington and Brunswick.

However, over the last five to 10 years, that’s really changed. Certainly around Seddon and Footscray, we’ve seen that cafe culture really blossom, as well as the restaurants and the pubs. I’ve noticed the demographic change over the last 10 years, that’s for sure.

There’s also plans for a Moondog Craft Brewery at the site of the iconic Franco Cozzo Italian furniture store in Footscray. 

 

Lack of education facilities is one of the shortcomings the west has had over the years, particularly high schools. But that’s changing isn’t it?

Over the last few years, the State Government has put quite a lot of money into education in the region. That is culminating with the new Footscray High School, a large co-educational facility that brings together a number of schools in the area. That’s really bolstered the educational prospects for the area. The area is also home to Maribyrnong Sports Academy, a school for athletically gifted students.

 

Run us through some of the major government infrastructure developments planned for the area?

The West Gate Tunnel Project is a big one, which will facilitate car commutes and general travel. Another major one is the Metro Tunnel Project, which will build new train stations that will bolster public transportation options in the area.

A little bit further out, Sunshine will greatly benefit from the Airport Rail Link, with plans to have trains running every several minutes, going directly to the Melbourne International Airport. This will also make travelling to the city a lot faster and easier for people in the area.

 

What are some of the different property types and styles we see across the western suburbs? How do homes in Yarraville and Seddon differ from properties in Footscray and Maidstone for example?

Yarraville and Seddon certainly have a more consistent streetscape in regards to Victorian style architecture. In West Footscray you’ve got quite a few streets with California bungalows and postwar homes. Maidstone is a little more eclectic and features a mix of contemporary townhouses, as well as Art Deco and postwar properties.

In terms of property sizes, family homes in West Footscray are on the smaller end, with homes typically sitting on anywhere from 350 to 500 square meters. As you move further out towards Sunshine, the blocks get a lot bigger.

 

Let’s have a look at some price brackets for the area. For example, a typical single front two bedroom cottage in Yarraville?

You’d be looking at around $1.1 to $1.2 million as an entry point for property in that style and location, pushing up to $1.3 million. The same type of property in Seddon would be in a similar price range. 

A little further out to Footscray, it’s a touch more affordable. There we’d be looking at around $1 to $1.1 million for the same property. 

 

As mentioned, further out it tends to be a little more eclectic in terms of property types. What’s the price bracket for a good family home?

For family homes in good parts of Maidstone, you’ll be looking at around a million dollars, but the difference there is, you’ll be getting a three or four bedroom homes on larger blocks, compared to the single front homes on smaller blocks, like we mentioned in the suburbs closer in.

 

What’s your favourite pocket of the inner western suburbs and why?

There’s a pocket around Tennyson, Seventh and Browning Streets in Seddon that I really like. I’m a big fan of the Victorian era homes, which feature heavily in the pocket. The streets have a heritage overlay, so they’re quite consistent. Development, while it’s possible, is limited, so that brings a lot of old world charm. It’s also nice and close to Seddon Village, which has great restaurants, bars and boutique stores. Not to mention, its close location to Middle Footscray and Seddon Stations.

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