Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West

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  • Joe Wylie, in reply to ,

    Mangere Bridge

    Some of my younger whanau sold up in Mangere Bridge a few years ago, which enabled them to buy mortgage free in Dunedin. They did have to go back into hock for some extensive terraforming, as the Mornington terrain isn't readily conducive to offstreet parking.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Amanda Wreckonwith, in reply to Russell Brown,

    easily take it over a million.

    This is one of the problems with the free market approach to trying to get more affordable housing.

    Developers look for property in rezoned areas. The land value rockets. Any house built on the land is too highly priced to make a difference.

    If we are to get truly affordable housing then there should be some form of state intervention into the market.
    Maybe Housing New Zealand could be made exempt from zoning rules and so buy land at the current market price prior to subdivision approval, rather than competing in the same market as the free market speculators?

    Since Sep 2012 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    I agree with intensification. Simply no other way to accommodate growth, avoid economic cost of sprawl, as well as get a bit more big-city vibrancy.

    Not sure I like the characterisation of the inner-west as 'uncooling' though :). I returned to NZ 10 years ago after decades overseas in UK and Australia.

    The lure of the NZ lifestyle, the desire for our children to grow up as New Zealanders and the wish to spend more time with our wider circle of (aging) family and friends became too hard to ignore.

    Armed with money gained from selling an apartment in inner-west Sydney, we had dreams of buying a hip-pad in Ponsonby.

    Reality meant looking in Ponsonby, becoming aghast and then disillusioned by the prices, then readjusting sights to Grey Lynn, Westmere, Western Springs, Pt Chev, and then ultimately to a do-up bungalow in Mt Albert.

    As a family we've had some of the best years of our life here in Mt Albert (despite the - first-world problem - paucity of decent bars and restaurants that our London and Sydney lives had sensitised us for).

    The area is full of people in similar positions to ourselves - people who have lived elsewhere and returned to Auckland and NZ aspiring to live in a vibrant, varied city and making a contribution to that in their own way. I don't think of that as 'un-cooling' the area.

    Intensification is happening - albeit not in a particularly planned way. But in my street alone nearly half of the sections have already been sub-divided.

    I'm even OK with the idea of Unitech getting to develop some of their extensive land holding for residential purposes.

    I just wish they hadnt gone about it in such an appallingly ham-fisted way. Instead of approaching the community to pitch the idea of more community amenities, more school space (in an area chronically short of room in primary and intermediate schools) and more scope for bars and restaurants, we get an attempt to force a change through the back-door without any community consultation.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Elm St is a pretty primo location in Avondale, though. It's quite literally next to the racecourse, almost in the shops, by the library, and it's a cul-de-sac. That it could be subdivided into 3 residences is gravy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I had an estate agent door-knocking, hoping to sell my Avondale place and suggesting I move to Ranui. I'll be charitable and put that down to her noticing many people of my apparent type doing the same thing rather something about me screaming of a desire to escape the big smoke and all the brown faces.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to llew40,

    I agree with intensification. Simply no other way to accommodate growth, avoid economic cost of sprawl, as well as get a bit more big-city vibrancy.

    I think it’s also a response to the tiresome demographic realities. As I said upthread, David is retiring next year and we’re looking very seriously at quitting Auckland entirely. But wherever we go, a very serious question is going to be reasonable access to health and social services, and with a serious drop in income (and the fact I can’t drive at night) being close in or close to reliable public transport matters.

    Not everyone requires or desires some suburban McMansion with a giant lawn, no matter how much the usual (and far from disinterested) suspects would like you to believe otherwise.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to BenWilson,

    we get cards, personalised hand written letters and the like a few times a week out here in Glen Eden... which if they use the correct fire lighting paper is appreciated

    Not overly surprising as our street since we've moved here has been prone to the buy, lick o paint, bung in rental furniture take photo and sell again syndrome with a few houses changing speculators hands 2 to 3 times in the past year

    I wonder how many houses, Auckland wide, haven't had anyone live in them for years as a consequence

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to llew40,

    The area is full of people in similar positions to ourselves – people who have lived elsewhere and returned to Auckland and NZ aspiring to live in a vibrant, varied city and making a contribution to that in their own way. I don’t think of that as ‘un-cooling’ the area.

    Heh. My choice of headline seems to be taking up more of the discussion than I intended. My main motivation was really looking at that big demographic change in Western Bays. It's quite a shift.

    Intensification is happening – albeit not in a particularly planned way. But in my street alone nearly half of the sections have already been sub-divided.

    I’m even OK with the idea of Unitech getting to develop some of their extensive land holding for residential purposes.

    Totally. It seems like a no-brainer. Transportblog had an intriguing post on the way bus/cycle/foot traffic could be integrated in the development.

    But yes, point well made about the way Unitec has approached it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Dastardly Bounder, in reply to Donne,

    Avondale might be a bit different. Around the town centre is zoned for much greater density and some apartments are already being built.

    I think that may actually be good for Avondale - I've lived there for the last couple of years and have seen house prices rocket. It's one of the areas where artists pushed from the innner suburbs have ended up, and these people have been self organising to create cultural outlets. It'd be nice if the accomodation stayed affordable and greater density housing might help achieve this.

    Avondale's one of the city centres identified for renewal by the recently proposed organisation arising out of the success of Waterfront Auckland's development around Silo Park. This group engages in 'Placemaking' which is a form of town planning slash event management slash community building and has been seen in Detroit, New York and Christchurch. It can work to great effect.

    The Avondale art community has also taken control of their own destiny - the recent "Whau the People" arts festival in the old Three Guys site was really good. Impressive installation art works, performance, interactive arts. All good.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2012 • 61 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dastardly Bounder,

    The Avondale art community has also taken control of their own destiny – the recent “Whau the People” arts festival in the old Three Guys site was really good. Impressive installation art works, performance, interactive arts. All good.

    Yes. I know a couple of people involved in that -- they moved to Avondale from a CBD apartment and they're basically what you describe: arts people looking for a little more space and getting engaged in their new neighbourhood. Fingers crossed it works out in the way you envisage.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    As for the general lament of the changing nature of the city, I've got plenty of sympathy for it, without having any particular ideas about what to do about it. It does seem less cool than it was, whilst at the same time being much improved in most material ways.

    I remember the character of inner west Auckland from my youth, since that is were I grew up. Now I couldn't afford to live there, but I also wouldn't want to. Apart from proximity to the CBD, it's got little that I want (at the price I'd have to pay for it).

    It's now a place for older people, much as I remember Remuera being when I was a teenager and commuted to school on the east side. The inner west was predominantly young people - even in Herne Bay we were surrounded by young families. But there was a particular vibe that was different to where I am now, still surrounded by young families. I think there was a real dynamism, a sense of people actually in control of their society and shaping as they liked. They consciously chose to live in poor areas and improved them because the liked something fundamental about the character of the areas, as well as liking the prices.

    I don't know how the change came about, though. I think a big part of it isn't that young people were squeezed out so much as that the young people who liked it then are now old people. If it's not cool, that's because it's hard to stay cool as you age and slip into easy middle class prosperity. Where you used to fight the horrible establishment, now you are the establishment.

    But that loss of a place where a perfect storm of many cultures colliding, youth getting educated surrounded by the working classes, and life being affordable enough that raising a family as a student was actually normal, rather than being virtually impossible the way it is now, is something I do lament. Those demographics, as they shift away from the center, become more diffuse. I don't think it will ever come back, not in Auckland. The changes to the University of Auckland, in which I have now completed 2 undergraduate degrees separated by 20 years, are indicative of the changes to the city in which it rests. It's become a much more business oriented place. Student culture is almost an oxymoron now - you'd barely be able to tell a student apart from anyone else in the street, because what they sign up for now is mostly vocational training, rather than a process in which their entire outlook is transformed in a wild exposure to ideas and a love of learning for its own sake. It just doesn't serve the same function any more. I don't look to social transformation coming from them any more. I don't see any kind of character suburb forming around them here ever again. Mostly they can't wait to get out and get a job and all ambitions of any kind of property ownership are gone. Not one student I've spoken to in the last 3 years has even expressed an interest in owning property, so far out of their cognizance has that idea become. What on earth would be cool about buying some remote place in the sticks, nowhere near anyone they know, on a deposit that costs three times as much as their entire student loan, so that they can commute 20 kms every day to an underpaid job?

    I told a lie. One student was trying to buy property. But she was 30, nearing the end of her doctorate, and in a long term relationship with a guy on very decent income. But they still couldn't afford it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to BenWilson,

    Elm St is a pretty primo location in Avondale

    I had an estate agent door-knocking, hoping to sell my Avondale place and suggesting I move to Ranui.

    Sounds like a Nightmare...... :-O

    /coat

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Sounds like a Nightmare…… :-O

    I'm sure Ranui is nice enough in it's own way, and the economics of the idea are great. I can see why people do it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to bob daktari,

    Not overly surprising as our street since we’ve moved here has been prone to the buy, lick o paint, bung in rental furniture take photo and sell again syndrome with a few houses changing speculators hands 2 to 3 times in the past year

    Yup, a good friend of mine did exactly that, there. He moved to Ranui. Now, I seldom see him. Presumably this is what happens when you move to Ranui.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Dastardly Bounder, in reply to BenWilson,

    He moved to Ranui. Now, I seldom see him.

    I think that is one of the reason's behind the sentiment in many of the 'my neighbourhood has changed and I dont like it' comments. We lose aspects of our community and culture as market forces disrupt our lives.

    I would like to encourage people to get involved in community building - you can take an active role in creating and maintaining culture in your neighbourhood. Put on free events in your local park, meet people, campaign for the change you want at your Community Board meetings...

    The 'cool' aspects of yester-year's inner west are achievable elsewhere, they just need your involvement.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2012 • 61 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Dastardly Bounder,

    great points

    the thing I've found since moving out of the inner city burbs is a renewed sense of community and lack of pretension. Greeting people as you pass on the street, knowing your neighbours, the sounds of children playing... all the things that quickly disappeared in my Ponsonby & Grey Lynn years as the materialists moved in built fences and disengaged with those around them

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dastardly Bounder,

    The ‘cool’ aspects of yester-year’s inner west are achievable elsewhere, they just need your involvement.

    Some of the aspects can be achieved in isolated spots, yes. But I don't see that particular combination happening again. Times have changed. Maybe in another city, or perhaps a satellite city it will be like what it was here, but in Auckland I think it's just going to be very different.

    Put on free events in your local park, meet people, campaign for the change you want at your Community Board meetings…

    I appreciate the positivity in that, but I still have the opinion that despite even the best efforts of many people far more competent than myself, that this will never be the new old Ponsonby. It'll be the new new Ponsonby a whole lot sooner, and we'll be lamenting that there used to be mini takeaway shops selling fried chicken where the KFC now stands.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to bob daktari,

    a renewed sense of community and lack of pretension. Greeting people as you pass on the street, knowing your neighbours,
    the sounds of children

    3 outa 4 ain't bad.
    Seriously though, when we moved "out" to Mt Roskill it was an eye opener in that regard. It was a bit like how I remember Ponsonby Road, a community. Now I shudder every time I get north of K' Road into the heaving bosom of the Nouveau Riche and the home of Mike Hosking, what a wanker.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    there goes my rates bill up 10%.

    There's always Ranui ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Amanda Wreckonwith, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And there goes my rates bill up 10%

    And mine is likely to go down quite substantially. One of the joys of living in one of the few areas with declining CV's.
    Another joy is not having to endure those interminable dinner conversations with avaricious bores comparing how well they are faring in the Western Bays property market.

    Since Sep 2012 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • Dastardly Bounder, in reply to BenWilson,

    will never be the new old Ponsonby

    Evidently times have changed. The old Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Kingsland will never come back. Lamenting the loss of culture in a now gentrified suburb seems to be a global modern dinner party theme (Hackney, Harlem, The Castro, Berlin's Graefe), but to me it's akin to saying there's no been no good music since the 'insert decade here'.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2012 • 61 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    I remember, probably 25 years ago, being given two pieces of advice for real estate investment. The second* of these was: if you want to know which area is going to appreciate next, look at where the artists, students, and new immigrants live. They've moved there because it represents value for money, the value being measured as proximity to transport, and "vibe". Property values will rise there until the value for money matches those of other places, and the students, artists and immigrants will look elsewhere.

    Based on that, the ageing and gentrification in Pt Chev was inevitable, because you moved there.

    (*The first was that overall worldwide, the highest priced properties were places on hills with views, and places near the sea/water. That's less relevant to this thread, and the hills things feels a bit of a joke in Wellington, where pretty much everywhere's on a hill with a view, and being that way brings wind and steps that daunt ageing parents).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Amanda Wreckonwith, in reply to Dastardly Bounder,

    akin to saying there’s no been no good music since the ‘insert decade here’.

    Sums up my thinking entirely.

    Since Sep 2012 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to BenWilson,

    . If it’s not cool, that’s because it’s hard to stay cool as you age and slip into easy middle class prosperity. Where you used to fight the horrible establishment, now you are the establishment.

    NEVER! I ’ll tell you that for nothing,you can put your wallet away! :) Prosperity, maybe but part of the establishment, be dammed.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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