Melbourne is taking a bite out of the Big Apple with a citywide festival that celebrates the culture of New York.

From June to August, the MEL&NYC festival hosts a bonanza of events showcasing food, music, culture, and dance from the two cities. The festival coincides with the National Gallery of Victoria's Winter Masterpieces exhibition MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Melbourne and New York are close in more ways than you might at first think: take high-rise living for example. True, New Yorkers embraced the idea of vertical living last century, but Melbourne is falling in love with city living - apartment-style. Yet significant differences between the two cities remain.

Kay & Burton Projects Director Damon Krongold talks about the latest trends in Melbourne while developer Martin Nussbaum, a founding partner of the Slate Property Group that focuses on multi-family and mixed-use properties, gives us the low-down on what’s happening in the Big Apple.

What are the emerging themes in the Melbourne development market?

DK:  More owner-occupiers and bigger apartments.

“Within the last five years the market has become dominated by owner–occupiers. Prior to this period, the demand was from investors, including offshore investors. This market change has led to the sales process becoming more protracted as owner-occupiers place a greater emphasis on quality fixtures, fittings and colour palettes because they are actually going to be living in the space. An offshore investor is less concerned about these details as they're not going to be experiencing the apartment on a daily basis.”

MN:  Apartments are getting smaller.

“Community space and ‘co-living’ have become a common theme in most new buildings…. curated amenity spaces with events planned by  building staff  and a much greater focus on technology within apartments. Unit sizes (are) smaller than the last five years… probably down by 15 to 20 per cent.”

Have you seen a shift in client preferences in recent months?

DK: “Clients are seeking larger apartments (between 135 and 185 sqm) with fewer rooms as part of downsizing. They have a heightened sense of spatial awareness and, as such, are seeking a large master bedroom with walk-in-robe and en suite, large kitchen with butler’s pantry and good-sized balconies. The days of the 6 to 12 sqm balcony have gone. Today's owner-occupiers are seeking outdoor areas of at least 20 to 60 sqm, offering plenty of space for outdoor entertaining.'

MN: “Buyers or renters are being more selective in their decision making and taking a lot more time to decide on what building and unit they are interested in.”

What sets your business apart in the industry?

DK: “Our clients tend to be owner–occupiers at the luxury end of the market. We are not all things to all people. We are very particular about our partnership choices, from developers to builders. A developer's history, reputation, and ability to deliver are all key considerations for Kay & Burton Projects.”

Damon focuses on high-calibre, boutique developments and luxurious high-rise projects, such as the Dame Zara Hadid-designed Mayfair at 412 St Kilda Road, which will have 140 apartments.  

MN: “We have not pursued the super high-end market which has allowed us to stay in a price point of the market that is still very healthy and active.”

Developer Martin Nussbaum is focused on “middle class” New York housing and gentrifying neighbourhoods.

Is there a greater desire to own an apartment in a development now than traditional housing in Melbourne?

DK: “It has become a popular lifestyle choice among downsizers and retirees. They are opting for larger apartments in high-quality developments in premium inner-suburbs within Stonington, Boroondara and Bayside. They want to be close to the city with easy access to the airport for travel and freeways to go to a holiday home on the Peninsula.”

MN: "In most major cities, including NYC, the buyer or renter definitely prefers apartment living as opposed to single family homes.  That is the major allure of city living.”

Lifestyle & Design

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