Could Footscray be Melbourne real estate’s best kept secret? This industrial, working class suburb has been recently dubbed “the new Fitzroy”, and is home to over 13, 000 residents. Historically, Footscray’s name has been somewhat marred because of its ‘rough around the edges’ reputation, but locals and agents alike say that this is now largely unjustified.
‘Diverse’ may be the word to describe Footscray. Its vibrant, multicultural population is reflected in its wide range of ethnic restaurant options, colourful community and creative spirit. The local and federal government have starting laying the bricks in rapidly expanding this suburb into an inner-city ‘hub’, but agents are warning us that buyers need to move quickly if they want to secure their piece of the ‘wild west’. If you’re in the Melbourne market, and have got location, city proximity and value for money on your list, you would be amiss to overlook Footscray.
That ‘Footscray Feeling’
Footscray boats a range of unique dining options (think Ethiopian, Chinese, Vietnamese), excellent shopping with multi-cultural Barkley street and Highpoint just down the road and sound public transport. Locals appreciate its handy location, being approximately 10-20 mins drive from the CBD, from the beach and Williamstown. Local, Suzie Wykes, says that there is no better place to shop for affordable, fresh food than in Footscray because there are two markets which locals can frequent; the Footscray Market- a large, vibrant indoor market and Little Saigon Market, an upbeat Asian market and cultural experience.
The locals’ view
Local Maribynong council’s vision for large- scale development has been evidenced by the high- rise residential and office buildings beginning to crop up around town. While this initiative hasn’t been given the greatest reception by locals, residents are quick to sing Footscray’s praises. Local resident, Christian Fagan, says that apartments and developments are becoming more popular but there is still a charm and authenticity to the suburb. Fagan explains that he was drawn to Footscray because it seemed like the best value in terms of lifestyle and city proximity. “Young families are drawn to the area, and it’s great because it has a fun and interesting culture to it with a unique ethnic makeup- making for excellent restaurant options!”.
Local favourite: Locals say they enjoy the scenic river cycle route which has excellent views of the Port of Melbourne from across the river- keep your eyes peeled for wildlife – especially the birds, and even a seal or two!
Local agents say that for a city fringe suburb, Footscray house prices are yet to match what a suburb of close CBD proximity normally commands. The most recent median quarter release (see table below) indicates the median house price in Footscray currently sits at $625, 000- a slight year on year increase from $622, 500 12 months prior. When compared to another Melbourne suburb of relative CBD proximity, such as Richmond, there is a clear discrepancy. The median house price for Richmond at December 2014 was $955, 000- this is worth noting given that Richmond shares a similar industrial history to Footscray, once selling property at more affordable prices but later increasing in value as the area underwent gentrification.
Footscray is described as a true demographic ‘melting pot’. Many people have lived in Footscray their entire lives and have watched their children and grandchildren grow up there. Historically it has been very much a working class immigrant city, however today it is truly diverse. Whilst the city’s core ‘old school fabric’ is still ever present and embraced by all, it is now also seeing a fresh injection of young families and young professionals, discovering what the ‘westside’ is all about.
We sat down with City of Maribyrnong mayor, Nam Quach, to discuss its local developments, upcoming plans and his view on living in Footscray.
Q: Why are home buyers drawn to Footscray over other suburbs?
A: Footscray offers a vibrant earthy environment, which is unpretentious and welcoming. It is close to everything and attracts people from all walks of life, from all over the world. I love that it is artsy, edgy, diverse and continually evolving. People who like a dynamic and fun city will feel right at home in Footscray.
Q: What kind of housing options does Footscray offer?
A: We are an inner-city housing mix. Footscray has many period offerings including Edwardian, Victorian and Federation era properties, where a great number have been rejuvenated, whilst maintaining their heritage charms. However, with an increasing population growth, we are seeing a new influx of townhouse and apartment building developments to accommodate a range of needs. With a densifying city, we are very cognisant of sustainable town planning, that is measured and well designed, whilst meeting the reality of population growth.
Q: What makes Footscray different from other surburbs?
A: With a rich tapestry of working class, industrial and wartime history, our heritage is well maintained with an active Historical Society and a number of heritage overlays to protect from over development. Footscray is also a premium festival city, with annual festivals including New Year’s Eve celebrations, Lunar New Year, Wominjecka, Food and Wine and Laneway Music Festival, just to name a few!
Q: Where do you see the next 10 years taking the area?
A: Footscray is experiencing significant change and growth at the moment. The State Government’s regional rail project has transformed Footscray Station into a regional transport hub and the centre of exciting developments across the City. Footscray Plaza, McNab Avenue and the new Grocon building restructure have added to Footscray’s burgeoning face, and injected a new flavour to the demographic, which is extremely exciting.
The fantastic Little Saigon precinct redevelopment will transform the area around the Little Saigon market, with a new plaza, ground floor shops, parking and a Vietnamese welcome arch. I see this revitalising the cultural hub into something unlike anywhere in Victoria.
All of this development will be complimented by ‘Footscray University Town’, a ten year project to join the two university campuses with the community, creating an engaging and progressive learning city.
Feeling inspired to continue researching? Look no further than Footscray’s local experts- their agents.
All images: courtesy of Maribyrnong council