Sitting pretty between bushland and ocean
City Beach is a relatively young suburb with a unique history.
Popular to this day for its white sandy beaches and popular parklands, the suburb has been providing residents of Perth with a connection to the water for more than 100 years.
The suburb is typically split into three sections, a northern section bordering Scarborough, a central section bordering Wembley Downs and Floreat and a southern section bordering Bold Park.
While known today as a great spot to take the family on a hot summer’s day and enjoy the tranquil waters and cafes, City Beach enjoys a unique spot in Western Australia’s history.
During the suburbs early years – since the Perth Road Board purchased 1290 acres of land in the area in 1917 – it was a popular holiday destination, with families flocking to the beach much like they do now.
However, the suburb really started to take shape during the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, where it was used as an athlete’s village.
The city council set aside 65 acres of land in City Beach for the athlete’s village, with the competition to design the concept for the village being won by Mr K Thomas and Mr H Walker, who developed a plan of winding avenues and a core area of natural woodland which has today remained a parkland.
Some of the village houses in City Beach are still there to this day, while many have been renovated or demolished in the years since, as residents modernised and built up to take advantage of the lovely views.
The suburb revisits its athletics and active lifestyle heritage each year when 20,000 runners converge on the finishing line of the iconic City to Surf race at City Beach Oval.
Edison McGrath Sales Consultant Christopher Dee has lived in the area for the majority of his life, and said witnessing the growth of the suburb had been a pleasure to watch.
“We have seen some wonderful changes with the growth of the suburb,” he said. “Things like Bold Park Aquatic, with its state-of-the-art facilities.
“All of the residents of City Beach have been so pleasantly surprised and excited about our beachfront. We are all very proud of it and we love Hamptons, Clancy’s Fish Bar and Odyssey.
“The surf clubs for the kids, with all the amazing facilities has been a very welcome new premises down there as well.
“We were all a little bit upset when we saw the tower come down at the City Beach Groyne. All the residents thought it might have been down forever but it was just put into maintenance, so there was a bit of excitement when it came back.”
Mr Dee said the suburb was nestled between bushland and the ocean, offering the best of both worlds for residents.
“City Beach is surrounded by Bold Park, which can be looking up into the hills, and the other side we have the beautiful ocean,” he said.
Mr Dee also said the Quarry Amphitheatre was a unique attraction to City Beach, and pointed out the multiple walking and cycling trails as a favourite among locals.
Another advantage of the suburbs is its location.
“City Beach has proximity to everywhere, it is the most central coastal suburb with the shortest and easiest access to pretty much everywhere in the metropolitan area,” Mr Dee said. “There is no freeway to be used, unlike some suburbs that need to use it to get to the city. We have the two arteries of Oceanic Drive and The Boulevard, which is a huge thing actually.”
Keeping in touch with history
Located at the rear of Empire Village Shopping Centre and overlooking Beercroft Park, The Boulevard IGA has become a favourite with locals for its reputation of fresh and quality stock.
Stocking plenty of local produce, the shop services the suburb 364 days a year, having opened its doors four years ago on the 100sqm lot.
The Boulevard IGA Owner James Kelly said one of the reasons he decided to set up shop in the suburb was because of the family-orientated feel.
“It is a great family area and quite often three generations still live there, so the children tend to leave and once they have a family they come back and have their family in City Beach,” he said.
“We still have customers that tell me when they moved in, there wasn’t a road from City Beach to Cottesloe – must have been some time ago, around the time it was the Empire athlete’s village.”
The store itself harkens back to this history, paying tribute by hanging photographs of the games around the store.
“Where my shop is, I believe without doing any research, was where the kitchen was to feed all the athletes, so we have tried to enhance that in the store,” Mr Kelly said. “We have a few past athletes on the wall and done a few murals of them, and tried to keep the history in touch.”
Mr Kelly said the park located opposite the store was a microcosm for the suburb at large, which enjoyed plenty of parkland.
He said the parklands tended to be a big drawcard for residents, with people wanting to build their homes around them and spend afternoons relaxing there.
No sign of slowing down on the coast
The suburb of City Beach was put on the map during the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, so it makes sense a good portion of the properties in the area can be traced back to the time.
However, Edison McGrath Sales Consultant Christopher Dee said many of these homes had either been extensively renovated or were being knocked down.
“Once upon a time in City Beach, people were renovating these old 60s and 70s houses, but the way it is going in more recent times is these houses are coming down and new builds are taking their place,” he said.
“What we are seeing at the moment is that there are probably about 20 new homes going under construction, so activity has increased through City Beach, with the older 60s and 70s housing being knocked over and new homes being built.
“In the precinct of South City Beach there are about eight houses under construction at the moment.”
Mr Dee said one of the reasons why people were choosing to demolish and build was the lack of available land in the suburb and also the fact that the zoning in the area did not allow for infill, which allowed homes to have the classic Australian backyard – a big drawcard for the area.
According to Mr Dee, there has been a recent uptick in confidence through the local real estate market.
“We are seeing buyer confidence in the suburb at a level we haven’t seen for probably 14 years,” he said.
“We have done the numbers, and this is the first time in about 14 years we have seen this confidence – that is across the board, but definitely through the western suburbs and City Beach.”
Mr Dee said the ongoing efforts from the Town Of Cambridge in revitalising and beautifying the suburb had also gone a long way towards increasing confidence.
“When they do an improvement of City Beach, they do it very well,” he said. “That brings a lot of confidence to the people in the suburb.”
Mr Dee said primarily the suburb was served by single dwellings.
“There is a section in City Beach that does have some villas, but predominantly it is single residential,” he said.
Like much of the market in Western Australia, Mr Dee said available stock for budding City Beach residents was low.
“Right now the numbers are at a record low in terms of properties on the market,” he said. “That is driving the market, so when properties do come on they are selling in a very short period. There is also a segment of real estate sales with the off market.
“With such low stock numbers, we have so many buyers. People are volunteering to sell without going through the whole process because of market conditions being so strong.”
Rental vacancies around the state are low, but Mr Dee said there was most likely next to no rental vacancies in the suburb.