There’s a new residential/commercial development set to go up on York/George Streets in the mid-city part of the Sydney CBD, and since Sydney’s CBD doesn’t have a whole lot of residential space I went down to take a look (my interest was piqued, obviously). I think it’s time the city became a place to live in rather than just work and play; then it’ll start to have the kind of ‘up all night, something always on’ vibe that cities like Hong Kong have. Not in a ‘messily lined up in front of the ivy’ sense, but in a real, vibrant way. Michael Wiseman from Fife, the developer, and Katie Pickford from the development’s PR team took me through the display suite, which is open to the public on York.
Unfortunately, with the loss of my old laptop came the loss of all my editing software, but I’ll be getting that back soonish. Thankfully, I have my awesome new DSLR – which I am in love with – so the shots should still be of a better standard than they were with my trusty old point and shoot.
Some quick facts. 39 levels, mixed use (commercial, retail and residential), and a combination of studios, one, two and three bedrooms (mostly two bedrooms). Aside from the cityscape, there’ll be some pretty snazzy views of Circular Quay and Darling Harbour, and its location is obviously a mecca for transport, work, dining, drinking and shopping convenience. Being in the city, parking is at a premium; there are 13 parking spaces. I think Sydney is becoming the kind of place where people are becoming willing to forgo a car provided they’re in a place that’s close enough to what’s important to them, and that has easy public transport options; like Michael said, the city’s not a “ghost town”, and its residents have direct access to all its amenities. “It’s got lots of restaurants and bars, and things have been changing in that part of town,” he says.
I, personally, am obsessed with my car and park up to three kilometres from my apartment in the inner-east just to have some kind of access to it, but, hey – no one ever said I was normal. Good luck getting a parking spot in my suburb, by the way. I get excited when I find an illegal spot on my street I can use while I sprint in to grab something I’ve forgotten.
The city is generally earmarked for office space. Unlike other large cities, Sydney city has generally been a ‘work’ place, not a ‘living’ place, as I indicated earlier, but it’s transparent that demand has been changing and buyers/renters are looking to kill the commute. “The commercial market’s a bit quiet in the city, whereas the residential’s strong, so that was a big motivation for us to go across to resi,” Michael said.
The residential tower will be on York Street, and the models of the exterior look pretty impressive – it’s kind of similar to Seidler’s Horizon Tower insofar as it has a ‘weave’ appearance, but it’s done in an ultra-contemporary, geometric way.
The design is what you’d expect of a new inner-city development; on point, modern, high end finishes that’ll appeal to a well-heeled buyer. And buyers have been buying; 80% of apartments have sold off-the-plan since hitting the market in November.
Developments like this one and Central Park (which is down near my uni, and thus not exactly ‘centre of the city’ like this one) excite me because they show that developers are sensing that demand for city space is changing. It’s transitioning from a commercial place to an all-rounder place. That is cool. Since the people renting and buying these spaces also tend to be pretty well-paid, a fair amount of emphasis is placed on the architectural aspects of these buildings, which affirms my interest. York & George is based on two character buildings that are being restored as part of the process, for instance. The living spaces use floorboards and an open plan layout to enhance the feel and functionality of the apartments, and sizeable in-built wardrobes are a rarity in the centre of town (as I can confirm…oh my god, I need more storage desperately). So I guess my point is, the city is developing a network of resi space, connecting up from the park to the Quay to mid-city down to Chinatown, and I think that the result of this is going to be a new social fabric in a place a lot of spend a lot of our lives in.