In love with tower culture

In love with tower culture

Rhonda Dredge

It doesn’t matter if your next step is big or small if you are a resident of one of the many towers in Southbank.

It might mean squeezing into a lift at Southbank Central with three others when you’re used to a limit of two.

Or it might mean splashing out with $25 million for a penthouse that has just become available at Australia 108.

What’s important, say residents of Australia’s most densely populated suburb, is to make intelligent decisions that don’t hem you in.

The penthouse has 360-degree views which are unlikely to be built out, given that Australia 108 is the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere.

But it’s not just the view that counts in the suburb. Southbankers think of their culture as “intellectually rich and socially diverse.”

Anne Fairhall, a resident of Southbank Central next to Boyd Park, has been a prime mover in the organisation of film, book and coffee groups over Zoom during lockdown. “I’m naturally a connecting person,” she said.

She’s also watched the lights go on in Australia 108 as it has been filled during lockdown, making 1100 more units available to the potential population of Southbank.

“It’s practically sold out,” CBRE agent Tim Sumanti said of the building. He has 20 to 30 three-bedroom and 60 to 70 one- and two-bedroom apartments still on his books.

The 82 square-metre penthouse on Level 100 is back on the market for $25 million, after selling a few years ago to Chinese business interests.

“During COVID they couldn’t settle,” Tim told Southbank News. “It’s now available at that price.” The penthouse occupies an entire floor.

There are still rental opportunities to be had in the building, he said, with one-bedrooms available at between $300 and $350 a week. The foyer is as grand as any hotel with sparkly lights and flash cars in the driveway.

As towers open up their common areas again, such as the swimming pool, seated areas and gyms, life is flooding back into the suburb.

Those who have stayed, like Anne, have watched out for each other. The Bearbrass Probus Club, of which she’s secretary, has increased from 18 members in March 2020 to 66 currently.

Club president Mel Gray, a resident of Clarendon Tower in Clarendon St, said the club had a tech officer who helped people adapt to Zoom.

The club has informal meetings two to three times a week and a quiz every Saturday at 5pm on Kahoot.

“We’re a lot more engaged with each other,” Mel said. “In my own tower a number of people have joined the club and over time I’ve got to know them.”

The former IT consultant worked with Deloittes and Fujitsu and has a global perspective like many in this up-and-coming area.

Anne’s son lives in Switzerland and she’s been following the pandemic though his eyes. Mel was living in Luca, Italy, with his wife when the pandemic broke out.

The couple has been hitting the cafes and bars near their apartment like you do in Italy without the formality of booking.

“I feel like I’m experiencing Southbank again,” Mel said. “When I go back to Camberwell and walk down the street the experience is the same. This is a cultural hotspot.”


Caption: Bearbrass Probus president Mel Gray.

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