05.12.2020 Property Trends

Sydney Eastern Suburbs Property Trend: From Commercial To Residential

Sydney Eastern Suburbs Property Trend: From Commercial To Residential

Commercial properties are starting to give way to residential ones in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Sometimes this involves knocking down an ageing development and rebuilding an apartment block in its place. Other times, it involves reconfiguring and refurbishing a commercial building to make it residential. We explore what’s behind this trend.

We certainly don’t have to look too far to find a former commercial building that has become residential. The building in which our office is based, PACIFIC Bondi Beach, was once the Swiss Grand hotel.

In its final days, the Swiss Grand had become faded, with discount stores in its foyer and a dated look that jarred with its increasingly fashionable surroundings. Its redevelopment into a mixed-use residential, hospitality and commercial facility has breathed new life into the building. Now 95 residential apartments sit alongside a much smaller QT hotel, as well as offices (including our own) and high-end retail, as well as much needed amenities like a supermarket.

This is just one example of the trend. You’re also seeing the same thing happen closer to the city. For instance, the Riley Development on Riley Street, Darlinghurst, redeveloped what was an industrial site. Meanwhile, Omnia on Challis Street, Potts Point, took over a building once owned by the Crest Hotel.

The changing way we live

The key reason this is happening is because we’re changing the way we live. Many more of us want to be closer to the action. We want to be able to eat and drink in our own neighbourhoods. We want to be near facilities and recreation and to be engaged. And many of us want to keep the car in the garage or even get rid of it altogether.

What’s interesting is that it’s not necessarily the young driving this trend. Often, it’s the new breed of downsizers. Active, engaged and social, they can be demanding about where they live and the surroundings they live in.

These downsizers are often joined by professionals and family buyers who are happy to forego a backyard and live in an apartment – so long as it is large enough to meet their needs.

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The problem is that, in some parts of Sydney, there aren’t enough spaces to satisfy the demands of these groups of buyers.

Under-utilised space in high demand areas

Redeveloping commercial sites can help overcome this challenge, especially in the Eastern Suburbs where land is tight. Not only are the redevelopments usually in the primmest areas of the East, they often give the developer the chance to reconfigure a layout to provide substantial and high-end apartments. This means they can meet the demands of the most discerning buyers.

For instance, here in the PACIFIC Bondi, many of the ‘lighthouse’ apartments span two levels and offer generous outdoor entertaining areas. The largest apartment in the complex has an incredible 900 square metres on title.

A trend set to continue

Given the success of the developments we’ve highlighted and the growing demand from so many different buyer groups, this is one property trend set to continue – in Bondi Junction, for example.

Over the next few years, we expect to see more commercial buildings become residential in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, especially in premium locations where building new developments is a challenge.