Honouring its heritage
The discovery of some Queensland fruit flies in Grey Lynn earlier this year finally had the suburb in the news for something other than its soaring house prices. Those house prices march on, though. With its wider streets and larger sections, Grey Lynn remains a highly desirable inner-city suburb with a thriving cafe culture.
Bernadette Morrison, Bayleys' Ponsonby sales manager, says: "Grey Lynn has gradually been gentrified from the days of dilapidated villas used as student flats and older Victorian properties.
"Many of these character homes have been renovated to blend heritage with contemporary style.
"People love the wider streets and the slightly larger homes and sections compared to other inner-city suburbs.
"Recent years have seen greater intensity of development. Apartments offer a more affordable accommodation option and this in turn is attracting younger residents. Being able to walk to cafes, bars and retail stores is a big tick on the list.
"Grey Lynn Park and the weekly farmers' market are big drawcards and there are great schools in the area."
Keith Dowdle, of Custom Residential, adds, "Lately there has been a resurgence in the apartment market with large projects under construction and recently completed along the Grey Lynn ridge. These developments have been largely directed at the premium owner/occupier market and are selling from $800,000 through to $2 million.
"Houses in the area range from $1 million as renovation projects in the Arch Hill locale, whereas over the ridge in the remainder of Grey Lynn, entry is around the mid-$1 million mark. Record prices in the area have been just over the $3 million price point, with good renovated homes averaging around the high $1 million to low $2 million level.
"Buyers are attracted to the area by the good schooling, parks, cafe culture, proximity to Ponsonby Rd, transport links and the city."
Grey Lynn occupies what was Surrey Hills farm, which was sold for subdivision in the 1880s. Most of the housing stock dates from then through to the early 1900s, and many of those villas, transitional villas and bungalows remain, although a large proportion have been renovated.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Grey Lynn, like many central Auckland suburbs, became run down. With car ownership more widespread, families left the cramped sections of the city for new homes on bigger sites in the outer suburbs.
Before gentrification began in the 1980s, Grey Lynn was an attractive suburb to students, artists and immigrant workers from the Pacific Islands because homes were cheap to rent or buy.
These days, one of the major talking points in the suburb is the redevelopment of the main shopping area around the Great North Rd-Williamson Ave intersection.
The Grey Lynn Business Association is pushing for a pedestrian friendly precinct in tune with the arty/Pasifika vibe of the area. How this fits with the Auckland Council's push for intensification around major transport routes under the Unitary Plan is the big question.
The association would like to see traffic cut to a single lane through the shopping area, reducing vehicle speeds in conjunction with widening footpaths (with improved street furniture and paving) and building cycleways. Other proposals include redesigning the Chinaman's Hill intersection of Great North Rd and Surrey Cres, creating laneways, having community gardens on rooftops, and establishing a community market.