BY Larry Schlesinger
AFR Tuesday 27th September 2016
Melbourne buyers snapped up 40 per cent of the apartments sold in Geelong's biggest residential development, G1, over the weekend.
The $80 million project in Bellerine Street, next to the Geelong city centre, racked up 30 sales at its weekend launch, a "ballistic" result, according to the project's marketer, John Castran of Castran Projects.
G1 offers 110 apartments over six levels, with prices starting from $289,000 for a 53-square-metre one-bedroom unit with a car park and balcony.
Two-bedroom units start from $389,000 and three-bedders from $550,000.
According to CoreLogic, the median apartment price in Melbourne is $480,000.
"People priced out of Melbourne are looking at Geelong, which is 25 per cent cheaper than Melbourne on average yet the lifestyle and level of amenity is still extremely high," Mr Castran said. "This project offers affordable price brackets and has appealed to first-home buyers, downsizers and investors."
He said it fitted in nicely with the Victorian planning minister's desire to see more decentralisation of development outside Melbourne into regional markets like Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat.
In August, Mr Castran told the Geelong Advertiser: "You can buy a modern two-bedroom apartment [in G1] with a view for the price you pay for a crappy one-bedroom in Melbourne."
G1 is being developed on the former St Mary's School site at 148 Bellerine Street and is part of a bigger development that includes affordable housing.
Originally the project was to include a mix of social and private housing.
The cube-shaped development, designed by architect Daryl Pelchen, includes ground-floor garden apartments with courtyards, and top-level apartments with their own rooftop terraces, offering views over Geelong.
The project is being steered by Brunei-born Danny Lau, a former architecture student at Deakin University, with Sinclair Brook the development managers. Nadia Bartel, wife of Geelong footballer Jimmy Bartel, has aded some celebrity glam to the project as an interior design consultant.
Apart from good schools, hospitals, a waterfront cafe culture and a relatively short commute to Melbourne, Geelong's economy has been strengthening after weathering the impact of some high-profile job losses from the closure of the Ford factory and the Target head office.
The Geelong unemployment rate fell to 5.4 per cent in June compared with 5.7 per cent recorded in June last year, according to the Bureau of Statistics.