By: Andrew Date
If you’ve only recently tuned in to this year’s season of The Block, you may be surprised to learn what St Kilda’s Gatwick Hotel was like before the teams worked their magic. Forget sparkling bathrooms, fresh paint and designer furniture… we’re talking drugs, murder and some seriously icky rooms.
It’s pretty amazing then that the freshly renovated apartments that make up this former home of the down and out are speculated to be auctioned off for $2.2 million to $2.75 million a pop! It leaves us wondering, is this really what the apartments are worth? Or has the hype of the show blown these prices out of proportion?
The Industry Insider team had the privilege of having a firsthand look at these apartments in the flesh – here are our thoughts.
The Gatwick of the past
The Gatwick would have been a beauty in its heyday. It was built in 1937, a luxurious modern hotel with a sweeping staircase and high ceilings designed to house navy personnel between world wars. There was even the drawcard of a famous oriental chef.
In the 50s it was purchased by a Maltese-born woman named Vittoria Carbone, who began offering discounted lodging for the city’s hard done by. When she passed away in 1998, her daughters continued her legacy but struggled to keep up with the cost of the location. By then, The Gatwick had become synonymous with crime, Yahoo 7 reporting 74 crimes between 2013 and 2014.
New kids on The Block
Before The Block teams began work, The Gatwick was seriously run down. You can see some pictures of its condition before renovations began.
Channel 9 purchased the building for almost $10 million in 2017, and has divided what was once 66 rooms into 4 luxury apartments and 2 penthouses. (They also reportedly found 389 syringes while cleaning up the site.)
It’s a very different story now, though. If you’ve been watching over the past few weeks, you will have seen all five teams work tremendously hard to transform the building. And their hard work is predicted to pay off – with online property listings for the apartments touting a price range of between $2.2 and $2.75 million.
Media hype or not?
If you were to ask us 12 months ago if we thought renovated apartments like this would fetch these sorts of prices in St Kilda, we’d be happy to predict that they’d sell at auction without a problem. However, with current market conditions favouring the buyer, this series could be very different to the past couple of years.
We hope for the sake of the contestants and the agents who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes that they all achieve great results on 27th October.
The median house price in St Kilda over the past year has fallen by 21.8% to $1,029,000, while unit prices have increased by 1.4% to $527,000. Other properties listed in the area are on the market for upwards of $3 million – however they offer a land component. The Block apartments are of the art deco era and they offer varied floor spaces and outlooks from each of their open space areas.
We wouldn’t be hugely surprised if some of the apartments end up passing in at auction – with the combined power of negative media and the fact that a majority of buyers’ borrowing capacity has greatly reduced in light of the Royal Commission.
Nevertheless, media hype directly generated from The Block has also drawn considerable interest to the St Kilda area. The Gatwick has had a bad name for a long time, and many local residents are pleased about it being cleaned up, bringing property value and liveability in the area up considerably.
Our firsthand take
The Industry Insider team took a walk through the renovated Gatwick apartments recently, and we’re thoroughly impressed with what we saw. Kerrie and Spence’s apartment hosts a stunning kitchen area, while Bianca and Carla blew us away with their outdoor alfresco area. Plus, we were inspired by what Courtney and Hans have done with their living areas. It’s interesting that the 2 penthouses are smaller than the 3 other apartments – but they still wow with high ceilings and natural lighting.
Norm and Jess have played the game well. Their penthouse faces south, however it feels light and bright. With the Domain magazine cover under their belt, this will no doubt help with some extra market exposure.
We think that Sara and Hayden, though positioned as underdogs, are in with a good chance as they’ve carefully selected their apartment from day one. The northeast facing terrace is ideal and the apartment has an eclectic flair throughout. If their reserve is set realistically, we think they can win!
The apartments border the more sought after St Kilda West precinct and certainly offer an ideal lifestyle, close to the foreshore and Albert Park. However, we are slightly disappointed that they only come with one carpark per apartment. We wouldn’t expect these to be sold with the idea of investment in mind, as they’re more likely to be purchased by people looking for the St Kilda luxury lifestyle.
It will be interesting to see what happens at auction on October 27th, and what the apartments will really sell for. We’re also keen to see the flow-on effect from this year’s season of The Block into property prices in the St Kilda area. If you’re interested in bidding on one of the apartments, Industry Insider have our finger on the pulse when it comes to Melbourne property. Contact us on 1300 181 997 for more information about how we can help you on auction day.