From its Victorian era foundations as the home of the elite to its post-war period as Melbourne’s racy district, St Kilda is a suburb of almost constant evolution.
Lying just six kilometres south-east of the Victorian capital’s central business district, the suburb’s undulating social status can be most clearly seen through the size, shape and scope of the places its residents call home.
With many layers of development, St Kilda is an area characterised by an eclectic mix of residential styles, ranging from rows of Victorian terrace houses, Edwardian and interwar homes, to post-war and modern infill development.
But it’s its lesser known history in strata which is perhaps most intriguing.
While it may not be widely known, St Kilda is home to Edgewater Towers, Melbourne’s first privately developed high rise block and at the time, the tallest in Victoria.
It is also the location of St Leonards Apartments, famed for being designed by Greek-Australian architect Nonda Katsalidis, and recognised with multiple Victorian Architecture Awards.
St Leonards Apartments is proudly managed by VBCS (Victoria Body Corporate Services), a well-established strata management company with detailed experience around St Kilda.
With diverse properties and unique owners corporations in this region, it pays to appoint a specialist with detailed knowledge how to best manage special properties, such as heritage listed ones, whilst keeping the best interests of all owners at heart.
St Kilda early settlers
Initially inhabited by first nation people around 30,000 years ago when it was known by the name of Euroe Yroke, the first European settler in St Kilda was Benjamin Baxter who arrived in the area from Melbourne on a grazing lease in the late 1830s.
Over the next half century, St Kilda’s population more than doubled and by the Land Boom of the 1880s, it had become a district of palatial mansions and large villas in extensive gardens and grand terraces.
Many of these, such as the historic renaissance residence Eildon Mansion, have been fully renovated and are still in use today.
Meanwhile, the less popular streets with smaller blocks between the big estates were developed with modest cottages and terraces, housing the working class population of the area.
The boom of the 1880s ended with a thud, with the depression affecting all levels of society and ruining many of the newly wealthy.
Hello St Kilda Beach
After the turn of the century, the St Kilda foreshore became Melbourne’s favoured playground, with electric tram lines linking the suburbs to the seaside amusement rides, ballrooms, cinemas and cafes, and crowds flocked to St Kilda Beach.
It was at this time many of St Kilda’s mansions and spacious terrace houses became guest houses, and the wealthier residents retreated to other exclusive suburbs.
Much later, apartment development concentrated in the area, some in the gardens of the mansions, resulting in St Kilda becoming the most densely populated suburb in Melbourne.
This era produced some outstanding early apartment designs, many of which are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. These include Majestic Mansions on Fitzroy Street which was built in 1912, and Summerland Mansions – another block in the “mansion flats” style, a style rare in Melbourne.
From scandalous to showy St Kilda
Post war St Kilda became Melbourne’s red-light district and was the growing focus of many of Melbourne’s social issues including crime, prostitution and drug abuse. As a result, the guest houses became low-cost rooming houses.
In the late 1960s, St Kilda become known as the epicentre of bohemia, and soon became a drawcard to many prominent artists, musicians, poets and creatives.
While some of these groups still maintain a presence in St Kilda, since the 2000s the district has experienced rapid gentrification pushing many lower socio-economic groups out to other areas.
Last year the suburb hit the national spotlight when became the featured location of reality renovation show The Block – a show which pits couples and friends against one another to renovate old apartment blocks.
From humble beginnings, the resulting five luxury townhouses each sold under auction for more than $300,000 above reserve, with the winning townhouse changing hands for an impressive $3.62 million.
Yet while an extreme result, realestate.com.au data shows that median property prices in this iconic suburb over the past year typically range from $557,750 for units to $1,382,500 for houses.
Featuring many contemporary apartment complexes, it is also a great place to invest, with strata residences renting for an average of $420 per week, with a rental yield of 3.9%.