Redfern Now

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From no-go to can’t stay away

If any proof was needed that Sydney’s rental prices are through the roof, then this is it.
It’s only a decade ago that taxi drivers wouldn’t even stop in this part of Redfern.
But this week on a row of terraces in the once notorious Eveleigh Street are being advertised for rent for between $1000 and $1200 a week.

While the interiors have undergone full transformations, the brown-red brick exteriors remain every bit as gritty as they were on recent episodes of the ABC’s Redfern Now.
Leasing agent Michael Katsiambirtas from Richardson & Wrench Newtown said the facades would soon be rendered and painted, further transforming the area more commonly known as the Block.
The new look will be “probably grey or something,” he said.
Mr Katsiambirtas believes that the old stigmas of Eveleigh Street and Redfern in general have “worn out”.
And despite the price tag, he said there had been a lot of interest in the rentals, mainly from students and young professionals who want to be close to universities and the city.
According to Mr Katsiambirtas, four-bedroom terraces now fetch the same prices whether they’re in Redfern, Newtown or Surry Hills.
A decade ago the median weekly rent for houses in Redfern was just $395, figures from Australian Property Monitors show.
That figure has since risen to $710 a week but for renovated terraces with four bedrooms such as these you would expect to pay much more, even if they are on Everleigh Street.
Much of upper Eveleigh Street was razed in 2010 by its owners, the Aboriginal Housing Company, after it deteriorated into a slum. The AHC’s redevelopment plan to provide 62 affordable houses for Aboriginal families, the Pemulwuy Project, has been delayed by financial problems. An abandoned car park and several derelict terraces are a stark reminder of the street’s troubled past; although a large mural of the Aboriginal flag has become a Sydney landmark.

Redfern has evolved to become a magnet for students and the young-at-heart. The arts, cafe and bar scenes are all growing, and the suburb is developing a cool factor to rival Newtown and Surry Hills.
The new “urbanest Cleveland Street” student accommodation complex, just metres from the rental properties at 31-47 Eveleigh Street, will attract another 440 young residents to the emerging precinct when it opens on February 15.

This article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on Jan 9, 2014