10 April 2011

176 Barkly Street, St Kilda, VIC, Australia

Back in the day when I was a poor undergrad student, I looked at quite a few properties in the desperate quest to find somewhere cheap, inexpensive, and in a vaguely decent location (emphasis on "vaguely"). I looked at some pretty horrendous properties in that time. It's amazing what real estate agents and landlords get away with asking for properties just because they happen to be a couple of blocks from a mediocre beach or across the road from a railway station or happen to fall within the formal boundaries of a poncy suburb. But 176 Barkly St takes the cake for being the single worst - and single most memorable - property I had the displeasure of setting foot in on this entire quest.

Oh-so-inviting entryway, where you can be bashed in seclusion.
I wish I could show you inside.  If the pictures of the exterior make you think it looks reasonably dank and dingy, you're on the right track. It's just so dark on the inside. Some rooms looked like a ray of sunshine had never once passed through the window; it was a bright spring day outside, but I felt like I was in England on a stereotypically drizzly winter's day. I remember the rooms at least seemed to have fairly high ceilings, a quality i quite like, but otherwise ... sweet jesus, the floorboards and the aged walls were dark enough to emphasise the drab, soulless feel, and the fittings in the kitchen and bathroom looked barely hygienic and barely functional. The sort of fittings that, in general, had disappeared before the Soviet Union did.

One of the windows has recently gained a tag. Charming.
On the outside, well, the design betrays a lack of imagination. The graffiti scrawled on the window actually somehow adds to the building, that's how meaningless and drab it is. There was graffiti by the entryway that stayed there for years - although gone now, it lasted a good couple of years at least. The landlord clearly had little concept of maintenance. The fact the building was so clearly vandalised was just a reminder that in such a miserable and dark corner of St Kilda, you too were likely to be vandalised on your doorstep. Especially on a Friday night. This building is literally just around the corner from the happenin' block of Acland St, and that is why the real estate agent was asking ...

... wait for it ...

I can understand why it's hidden behind trees! Bonus ugly building at left.
One hundred and eighty dollars a week for this stinking sack of shit. There's a pub a few houses down, a supermarket right across the road, you're about two minutes from one tram line and two minutes from another, strolling to the Palais Theatre or Luna Park is effortless, and it's just another minute on to one of the most crowded beaches in Melbourne come a sunny weekend. Yet even if that sort of location sounds awesome to you (I find St Kilda a bit crowded and commodified myself), you'd spend every day living there overcome by a feeling of being utterly ripped off. It's highway robbery to demand $180 for somewhere unfit to house a dog. Actually, I don't like dogs and would quite happily house a heap of them there, but I'm a twat.

Google Streetview, prior to demolition.
The good news, as the pictures show, is that the place seems to have been gutted and is in the process of demolition, or at least a much needed rejuvenation. I hope it's the former, because even if you completely rebuilt this thing inside, I'm pretty sure there is a forcefield across the windows that prohibits sunshine from entering.

Rating: Condemnable and can't be torn down soon enough.

4 comments:

  1. My friends and I gradually took over most of the flats in 176 between 2007 and the end of last year, and it was awesome: dinner parties, barbeques, g&ts and music in the garden and a communal veggie and herb patch out the back. Because the place was in serious need of attention the landlords let us do whatever we wanted - paint, wallpaper, rip up ugly lino to free original floorboards... I'm actually rather sad to see the shellacked, Wroxton 'revival', with its anti-junkie fence. Yes, there were working girls redoing their lipstick in the stairwells, but who the hell moves to St Kilda expecting otherwise? This place had soul - and good times were had there. Ways of seeing, I suppose.

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  2. Do you know they've been asking $450k+ for these places? They've rewired, painted, floorboarded and put in a new kitchen/bathroom but seriously! The sale board came down a few weeks after it first went on the market without a single one being sold. Seems to me that greedy developers have bitten a little too much off...

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  4. All sold and a proud owner of a great apartment in a great location. 180 a week lol, what do you expect? Even in 2000 that didn't get you much. 450k I wish! Paid a lot more a year and a bit ago and worth every $. Bemoaning something you paid less than 200$ a week for sums it up, they are around the 450 mark now and for a couple of bedrooms in this spot is cheap. Beach is mediocre if you compare to Sydney but you can't even get storage for that, not even a car park. Pros are stll out the front and mostly tranny but they're always good fun for a chat. No problem whatsoever with safety and these places beat the hell out of the pre fab crap going up all around. Worth a lot more too in years to come.

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