Geelong. Golden Years.

Don’t let me hear you say life’s
taking you nowhere,

Come get up my baby
Look at that sky, life’s begun
Nights are warm and the days are young
Come get up my baby

There’s my baby lost that’s all
Once I’m begging
you save her little soul
Golden years, gold, whop, whop, whop
Come get up my baby

David Bowie, Golden Years

The signs are all there. The shimmering waterfront. Beautiful open parklands and gardens. Graceful period buildings. Converted warehouses come universities. Expanding commercial offices. A slowly but surely regenerating arts precinct. A burgeoning food and wine scene and more coffee shops than can reasonably sustain a community of 200,000 caffeine junkies. Yes, Geelong’s CBD is in the midst of rapid gentrification.

The median property price jumped nearly $100K during 2015, now sitting a shade over $600K. There are three key sections to Geelong’s CBD. The western wedge takes in the western beach waterfront abutting Mercer St and Drumcondra. The central section starts at Deakin University, heading south up the hill towards Kardinia Park.  And finally, the stunning Eastern section takes in the waterfront pool and parklands with views to the You Yangs, connecting east to the Geelong Botanic Gardens.

Marina views, Geelong

Marina views, Geelong

All three are completely charming, offering no shortage of period appeal in a broad mix of sizes. For the able bodied, cars are truly optional. Amenities are all in walking distance including trains from Geelong or South Geelong. At the eastern end, proximity to the Geelong Hospital and medical precinct boosts the areas appeal to the healthcare fraternity for buying and leasing. The central section offers the most scope for dramatic change and improvement.

If money’s no object, perch yourself on The Esplanade, Western Beach, Eastern Beach, Pevensey St, England St, Alexandra Ave or Pevensey Crescent. These tree-lined streets are close to the waterfront and parklands.

Pevensey Park

Pevensey Park

Beyond that, there’s plenty of readymade goodness to go, or diamonds in the rough needing your personal TLC. A future Bellarine Highway Geelong Ring Road connection offers scope to vastly reduce traffic on key west-east city links, including Ryrie, McKillop and Kilgour Steets. The quieter Malop and Myers Streets also stand to gain, adding buyer appeal to the many beautiful and stately homes located on these busy thoroughfares.

For those in the family way, St Mary’s primary school is centrally located at the top of the hill, unsurprisingly adjacent to St Mary’s Basilica. South Geelong Primary School is on the CBD fringe in Kilgour St. Geelong High School and Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary are both solid public options. Gordon Tafe offers senior secondary school programs within the context of technical further education. Newtown, the suburb next-door, offers a multitude of private secondary schooling options.

Double story homes capture water views

Double story homes capture water views

To date, apartment style housing development in Geelong’s CBD is led by the Waterfront. Next up is a variety of student housing projects. The gap is of course mid-priced larger apartment style living for smaller established families and couples.

Bridging this gap is key to unlocking the small number of CBD spots struggling to regenerate, as the proliferation of for lease signs in Ryrie St and parts of Moorabool St will attest. For the uninitiated, there’s much gnashing of teeth over these vacant shops by some local residents, landlord’s and sections of the press who interpret it as a sign of Geelong’s imminent death. Rather, it’s a symptom of the retail hub precinct resetting itself towards the waterfront, in line with the magnetic pull of Westfield Shopping Centre.

Ryrie St is an historically significant retail strip. It’s also the main arterial connecting Melbourne to the Bellarine Highway, carrying the bulk of the Bellarine’s traffic. Until the Geelong Ring Road – Bellarine Highway connection is built and draining traffic from Ryrie Street, the grand old dame’s commercial activity may well continue to be hit and miss. It’s difficult to think of a single country town that’s suffering today from the introduction of a bypass. They’re most often the catalyst for rejuvenating a town’s heart. Ryrie St definitely needs this adrenalin shot. Perhaps a daring Ryrie St property owner may get the jump on their neighbours, kicking off its transformation into the low-rise, architecturally sympathetic, medium-density wonderland it could be? Residential housing is key to any enduring Ryrie St solution. With a bit of luck, planets will soon align.

The commercial property investment fairies are very active around Little Malop St, the so-hot-right-now incubator of exciting food and booze establishments. Upping the ante on this connector to the arts precinct (including it’s incredible new giant golf-ball like central Geelong library aka ‘The Dome’) is a cracking idea that’s bound to attract increasing numbers calling central Geelong home.

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