Hurstville mayor Steve McMahon told Smart Property Investment that $17 million had already been spent on a transport interchange that had just been opened with the majority of money being poured in by council has so far been spent on a train-bus interchange.
“We’ve redeveloped the retail sector of Hurstville station, which is one of the biggest stations on the cityrail network outside the city circle,” Cr McMahon said.
“We have acquired a former warehouse ‘bargain store’ for $9 million. That will be demolished and turned into a town square for people to have lunch, with lots of space and cafes.”
“The arcade next door is going to be turned into a ‘retail down the bottom commercial up the top’ style building, which will complement the new town square,” Cr McMahon said.
But Andrew Peterson from NextHotSpot told Smart Property Investment that he doesn’t see it bearing fruit in the short term.
“I see potential there, I would definitely keep an eye on it, but Sydney’s property market is pretty flat at the moment and I don’t really see it having an impact.
“The unit and apartment market in some of the surrounding suburbs is what I think might be affected, places like Roselands and Lakemba where prices are much cheaper but will still benefit from all of the transport infrastructure.”
Mr Peterson added that the community hub might also play a role in causing prices to rise.
“I notice that most of their development in the coming years is to create a town centre. They’re trying to get that sense of community that a lot of the other CBDs have lost.”
The announcement comes after the McKellin institute’s ‘Homes For All’ report called for a ‘polycentric’ city centre.
“With a dominant CBD sucking in a massive amount of commuters to what in comparative terms is a constrained location doesn’t just bring congestion problems … It also helps drive up home prices around this economic hotspot because there is a premium in housing close to CBDs," the report states.
But Mr McMahon has made sure residents have been heard, and has conceded that they are against development.
“The planned CBD won’t get any bigger, in terms of area, than Hurstville already is. Our whole strategy with this was to build our city to protect our suburbs.
“Our community has said they’re against development, they don’t want to see our suburbs destroyed by high-rise so our plan is to restrict that to the CBD so our suburbs are protected.”
He also outlined several strategies to manage the expected growth.
“So we got a parking strategy, an infrastructure strategy, and the last piece of the puzzle is keeping the open spaces, because there’s no point keeping all these businesses and homes if there’s no open space. So when you put all the pieces of the puzzle together, and throw in the commercial element, we’ll be hoping to attract business and government departments to Hurstville.”
Developers have descended on the southern CBD, but council is restricting them in terms of residential development.
“500,000 square metres of existing sites will be commercially developed. There’s already a plethora of residential units but there’s also a substantial amount of land that is under developed in the CBD.
“We want to make sure that commercial buildings go up, before oversupplying our residential space.
“Developers want to make more money ‘now’. And the market says that residential is more profitable at the moment. But I don’t care about developers profits; I care about what the cities going to be like in 5-10 years’ time.
“Once residential property is built, that’s it. You can’t change it, and the space is gone forever. We acknowledge it will take time but that’s the plan.”
Mayor McMahon has claimed he isn’t trying to challenge Parramatta, but trying to become a corporate business park in the middle of the suburbs.
“We want Hurstville to be seen as an alternative to these ‘business parks’ like out at Alexandria. They don’t provide the public transport links we can provide. And because we’re new and under developed, we can offer cheaper prices. And we’re closer to the city and airport.
“All we need is a decent hotel,” he concluded.
However doubters believe the one-way one-lane main street through Hurstville isn’t enough to support such growth.
But council has refuted these claims saying it will be like any other CBD’s traffic problems.
“We’ve done a number of traffic studies as part of our strategy to try and resolve that. The traffic issue is a common issue of all the major cities, personally the only way we can solve this is by getting better public transport, so we’re going to get more people on the trains and buses and depend less on their cars… That’s a bigger issue than just Hurstville.
“We looked at making more roads two ways, but the RTA believes it will slow things down by adding ‘pinch points’ and longer times at traffic lights. It’s a work in progress.”
In the next 20 years, Hurstville’s population is expected to grow by 13,000.