Once an industrial gasworks site and then best known for its seedy underbelly, Newstead now boasts waterfront homes around the $4m mark and at least 2,500 new apartments in the development pipeline.
Is this Brisbane inner city living at its best? The old ‘rough suburb come good’ story is hardly unique, but with an 11% increase in Newstead’s median apartment price over the last 12 months and a longer-term yearly growth rate averaging 7%, it’s hard to argue the plot line.
The growth figures from local property researchers Place Advisory suggest an ongoing demand for homes in the area. MyWealth’s Newstead property dashboard shows the suburb had a median apartment sale price of $772,500 at the end of April, according to RP Data figures.
“It’s probably the hot spot at the fake breitling moment,” says Place estate agent Aaron Woolard, who sells in the inner northern suburbs from Fortitude Valley to New Farm and along the river to Teneriffe and Newstead. Lochlan Mummery, director at Brisbane planning company Urban Strategies, says many of his residential developer clients are also focusing on Newstead as the ‘high end’ area of choice to build in.
Living with history
The suburb’s history isn’t all sordid. In fact, Newstead is home to Brisbane’s oldest surviving residence, Newstead House, where merchants, magistrates and superintendents lived throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s before the property was eventually heritage listed in 1992.
A suburb transformed
This integration of old world and new, which lends the suburb much of its charm, has been carefully engineered by Brisbane City Council. Foreseeing accommodation challenges for Queensland’s fast-growing population, the council launched Urban Renewal Brisbane (URB) back in 1992.
A 20-year project that transformed derelict inner city suburbs into highly desirable locales, URB culminated in 2011 with the finalisation of neighbourhood plans that set frameworks for ongoing urbanisation.
Mummery says the preliminary approvals facilitated by these plans also act as a big incentive for developers in Newstead, who don’t need to publicly advertise new projects providing they fit within the established parameters.
But he emphasises quality is key to succeeding.
“It’s got a fantastic vibe, it’s on the waterfront, there’s a big emphasis on urban design and excellence in design from an architectural aspect,” he says.
Improved accessibility has also played a big part in the area’s transformation. Although Newstead is less than 2.5km from the CBD, entry from the main roads into the city was barred until quite recently, when Skyring Terrace was opened up to car traffic. Additionally, a public transport network including a new ferry stop in 2012, express bus routes and two train stations within walking distance connects the suburb to most major destinations, while dedicated bike paths mean the location appeals to active city commuters.
Less than 2.5km from Brisbane CBD, Newstead also boasts riverfront views.
Strong rental market?
According to Queensland Government figures published in a Brisbane City Council investment prospectus in 2013, the area’s population is set to grow by 170% to 22,238 residents over the 20 years from 2011–2031. The council prospectus also used 2011 census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to highlight demographics that point to the likelihood of ongoing rental demand such as:
- A median age of 33.2 years, younger than both the Greater Brisbane age of 35.1 and the Australia-wide median of 37.3
- More than 85% of residents living in apartments
- Almost 60% of residents renting.
And as the charts below show, the area also has a high number of young couples without children.
Woolard, however, says with current low interest rates, people who would generally rent in the area are now thinking about buying and the rental market has softened slightly. He divides Newstead buyers into three main groups:
- Executive couples
- Interstate and local investors
- Downsizers from big houses.
Woolard believes there will be an adjustment period when many of the apartments currently being built are released around the same time, meaning there will be a lot of new places available to rent all at once.