Diane Leow | 16 July 2013

Perth's art deco renaissance as apartment living takes off

Perth's art deco renaissance as apartment living takes off

Art deco apartments in Perth might be seeing a resurgence with a new influx of apartment living in Western Australia.

As of the 2011 Census, there are 56,754 apartments in Greater Perth, with a post-census fillip underway. This figure comprises 9.1% of the total occupied dwellings in Greater Perth.

Ten years earlier, in 2001, Greater Perth had just 42,670 apartments, which then comprised 8.3% of the total occupied dwellings for the region.

This demonstrates a growth in demand for apartment living in the last decade.

According to the 1996 Census, the whole of Western Australia had 39,914 apartments. There were 62,990 apartments in Western Australia by 2011.

Its most prominent art deco apartments have been Perth’s Lawson Apartments, and Applecross’ Raffles Hotel. The latter was owned by the late Sydney businessman Abe Saffron whose plans to demolish the property was opposed by the Art Deco Society of Western Australia.

The property was sold to developer Brookfield Multiplex in 2002 - since been preserved but with a 17-storey apartment aptly named Raffles Waterfront completed in 2006.

The latest art deco complex is in Subiaco, the Simon Chugg building at 23 Railway Road  which was purchased by property investment group Devwest for $4,000,000, according to RP Data records.

Simon Chugg started his business in 1897 at the former premises of his father-in-law, A. E. Atkins. The business supplied funeral furniture and soft furnishings, and is one of Subiaco’s oldest retail outlets.

The developer plans to retain the façade of the art deco building, while incorporating elements of art deco architecture into the $7 million mixed-use development, named Railway 23.

The five-storey development designed by local Subiaco architects McDonald Jones (and pictured below) will incorporate ground floor retail, three levels of office space, and luxury apartments on the top floor.


One-bedroom apartments are priced from $575,000, while two-bedroom apartments start from $875,000.

Railway 23 has attracted some opposition from the Subiaco town council, which feared the new development would be too tall and therefore overshadow the heritage value of the S. Chugg building. In addition, there were concerns that the bulk of the building would not be in line with Subiaco’s “intimate streetscape”.

However, a response by TPH heritage planner Susannah Kendall referenced a four-storey office building currently being erected next door to Railway 23.

“Requiring the height to be reduced on the basis that the existing streetscape is ‘intimate’ and ‘low density/low scale’ is misinformed and as a result is unreasonable,” Kendall said in her response.

The Simon Chugg building was sold in 1994 for $600,000, according to RP Data records.

The building was listed for rent in November 2010 at an asking price of $65,000 per annum, and in January 2010 at an asking price of $80,000 per annum.

According to the latest RP Data report, the median sale price for units in Subiaco is $621,500, up 9% on last year. The average discount required to sell a unit in Subiaco is 9.2%, while private treaty sales average 67 days on market.

The median asking rent for units in Subiaco is $600 per week, while gross rental yield currently stands at 5%.

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