Mercato on Byron
Many of you will have noticed the progress of the new structure in Byron on Jonson Street in Woolworth’s south plaza. The ‘Mercato on Byron’ is taking shape and aiming to open in March 2019. The complex will include a number of interesting dining options, a new Woolworths and a nine-screen cinema. It is the first regional shopping centre to be vying for a five-star green rating. It will have open airflow public areas with air conditioning optional only in each shop, and water recycling. Leasing is being managed by Sophie Christou of Raine and Horne Byron Bay. Once the complex is open, the old Woolworths building will then be under the hammer and accommodation is planned – subject to council approval of course.
Gaia Retreat a winner.
Congratulations to Brooklet’s Gaia Retreat for winning the top gong at the 2018 International Luxury Hotel Awards. Co-owner Gregg Cave accepted the award at the prestigious event in Bali on behalf of the the other co-owners which includes Olivia Newton John. The resort was started in 2005 and provides guests with resort quality facilities along with various healing and therapeutic modalities. Find out more here.
The Gateway Project
Another proposal to make Mullumbimby great again is to bring back the Gateway Park. Opposite Uncle Tom’s Pies on the corner of Gulgan and Mullumbimby roads, is a park that was created for the Bicentennial in 1988. Thirty years on and the park is in need of some tender lovin’ care. It has received grants from NSW state gov (well done Ben Franklin) and the Northern Rivers Community Foundation. A brand new totem pole is also to be added donated by the good people from the Uplift Festival. Richard Mordaunt and some of the original carvers and creators back in the 80s are back to complete the upgrade and improvements. Watch this space.
Local comedian and man about (Mullumbimby) town, Mark Swivel, is running for the Senate. His Together Party has enough members to make an official party and he is hoping to be elected to the Senate in next year’s election. A good sense of humour, plus a lot more, will be needed to change the culture of Canberra. Mark’s slogan of Let’s Make Australia Slightly Better Than Average Again, is an aspiration I can fully get behind. Not too strenuous or ambitious and allowing time to stop and smell the roses. Find out more about Together Patty here.
Parkway Drive – More than just a street!
Congratulations to local band Parkway Drive winning another ARIA music award last month. Most Australians do not follow Hardcore Metal music like in Europe or North America. If they did, they would realise what a big deal this band has become. They are headlining stadium-sized tours around the world – everywhere except on their own turf here at home. They are about to headline a major festival called Woodstock in Poland, where they will thrash it out for over half a million headbangers.
I have friends who are proud parents and you could not ask for a sweeter bunch of guys. Some are Steiner schooled and no tatts or metal piercings to be seen. The drummer, Ben Gordon, owns the very trendy Byron General Store on Bangalow. An excellent place to be seen and Instagrammed. Byron Council, however, is not so enamored of their success. Over the years they have been unable to erect a “Parkway Drive” street sign as fans come from all over the world to pinch the sign. It only lasts a few days and council workers have been forced to paint that street name on the road.
It’s Tuk Tuk Time
In all my touring of Asia, a long lasting love affair i have always had is with the Tuk Tuk. This nifty little vehicle can get you around quickly and cheaply. Pretty dangerous and fairly polluting, I still always thought it would make a great addition to commuting options around Byron. Others have thought the same, and I know others have attempted to import them but have come up against restoration and insurance issue – that old chestnut!
A fully solar powered Tuk Tuk will be cruising thru Byron Town on Thursday around lunch time. This one, put together by the engineering department of RMIT, is here supported by Zero Emissions Byron Bay. It is on an Oz tour before embarking on an around the world mission to promote solar energy.
Speaking of young people making noise. Byron is currently hosting lots of Schoolies Week activities. BPS is probably not up and awake that often after hours in Byron CBD, but our interactions with schoolies is not what the local media contends. Anyone would think that this time of year we are invaded by hordes of out of control, drug and hormone-fuelled, delinquents wrecking havoc everywhere. Not our experience. Whenever we get the chance to chat to visiting schoolies they seem bright, smart, aware, attractive and extremely polite. Anecdotal reports from accommodation providers confirm this assessment – you couldn’t meet a nicer bunch of people. I think many baby boomers are making assumptions about their own teenage years and need to get with the rebranding.
For those not in the know, Sourdough Business Pathways (SBP) is a local organisation promoting local businesses and startups. They offer mentoring programs, innovation hubs, talks, and business presentations. They have been operating for some years and their annual Xmas lunch is usually a big event and worth a look. There are still a few seats left if you get in quick – like today – and you can book here. They have good speakers and activities and the Elements is a lovely place to spend an hour or two.
The national property market continues to cool. The pullback is to be expected after such a long and sustained rise. Sydney prices, for example, have risen 75% from the trough in 2012 to the peak in 2017. Even though Sydney house values have fallen 9.2 percent over the past year, their largest annual fall since May 1983, this is still acceptable on a long term graph.
The Byron Market remains strong. There is definitely more product listed than usual. This is the selling season after all. The level of demand, so far, seems to be satisfying the level of stock going to market. We will see noticeable price reductions if buyer demand dries up and stock increases.
HSBC’s Paul Bloxham has outlined the reason for the cooling. He says it is a reversal of factors that caused the boom in the first place, and they are: “housing undersupply during the mining boom (2004-2012), which has been worked down by a building boom; falling interest rates, that have since stabilised; strong foreign demand, which has weakened, due to constraints on foreign buyers; strong growth in lending to investors, which has been constrained by tighter prudential settings; and, expectations of capital gains, which drove investor activity, but have eased.
Bloxham noted the cooling is not unlike developments elsewhere, such as in London, New York, and Vancouver, suggesting some common global factors. “So far, the cooling has been orderly, with very few forced sales. This partly reflects that the key fundamentals that support housing demand remain in place − strong population and jobs growth and low-interest rates.”
NB: I have had feedback from readers that I could be too promotional and positive about my reading of the local market. Point taken and I probably am. I see the fundamentals and ongoing demand as strong with no dark clouds on the immediate horizon. However, I do admit there are credible commentators out there who are predicting the present downturn still has a way to go.