A short documentary history of the Block in Redfern
Material from the Gary Foley Collection

Redfern makes the transition

Hughes, Anthony
Sydney Morning Herald
22nd February 1997

FOR better or for worse, the inner-city suburb of Redfern is in transition.

Offering the cheapest entry into the inner-city housing boom, the gradual rejuvenation of the suburb is producing strong gains for property owners. Figures from the Real Estate Institute of NSW show Redfern homes have produced average annual growth of 12.9 per cent for the 10 years to June 1996, surpassed only by Erskineville, Leichhardt and Paddington in the Sydney metropolitan area.

Over seven years, the growth for Redfern was 6 per cent a year, a rate matched only by Earlwood.

Now the developers are moving to capitalise on that growth.

Architect George Revay is one such developer attempting to overcome resistance to the suburb with a residential conversion of an office block along the somewhat down-trodden Regent Street. His company, Platino Developments, is converting the old Winnings department store and former TAFE headquarters at 199 Regent Street, Redfern, into 110 units to be known as Lacey on Regent. The property, which was formerly owned by property speculator John Hawkins, was bought by Platino for between $5 million and $6 million late last year from its mortgagee in possession.

The $20 million project consists of a mix of loft studios and one- and two-bedroom units, priced from $145,000 to $258,000, with sizes ranging from 59 square metres to 98 square metres, mainly in long rectangular shapes. Many are distinguished by their loft-style bedrooms.

The development also includes two penthouses which are being redesigned and held back from the market, but are expected to have asking prices of $500,000.

The record price for a Redfern apartment was recently set at Dealruby's Moore Park Gardens developments where a penthouse in the newest tower sold off-the-plan for $700,000.

So far, about 50 of the Lacey on Regent apartments have sold off-the-plan after one weekend's marketing through Hunta Biddulph of Lacey Marketing.

Platino's 102-apartment project, Lacey on Cooper, at Cooper Street, Surry Hills, has almost sold out with similar product and prices at $135,000 to $275,000.

The Regent Street development includes a gymnasium, plunge pool and spa, lap pool, half tennis court, rooftop barbecue and concierge security.

Mr Biddulph says the apartments have proved attractive to city workers and students. One strong group of buyers has been air crews attracted by Redfern's proximity to the airport.

Mr Biddulph says recent tensions between the local Aboriginal community and police around Eveleigh Street inRedfern hasn't deterred buyers and Government attempts to fix housing problems is having a positive effect.

"All the areas in the inner city were once like this. Surry Hills was the last example and all the press there has been about Redfern has been positive press because something has been done about it," Mr Biddulph says.

Herald figures show Redfern unit sales on the rise with $24.7 million worth sold last year, compared with $18.6 million in 1995.