Oakleigh: The Greek hub undergoing a transformation

Oakleigh: The Greek hub undergoing a transformation

(This article was first posted on domain.com.au by Kate Stanton, November 2017. The full article can be found here)

Many Melburnians know Oakleigh as the epicentre of Greek suburban life, notable in a city that already has the largest Greek population outside of Athens.

In recent years, what was once a modest working-class village has transformed into a rapidly gentrifying middle-class hub synonymous with Greek-Australian culture. The best of Oakleigh is always on display at its busy pedestrian centre, Eaton Mall, where you could spend all day people watching and sipping frappes al fresco.

Though Oakleigh has always been a multicultural community, the proliferation of Greek businesses has strengthened its reputation as a Greek area. In the last two decades, the introduction and expansion of popular cake shops, such as Nikos Quality Cakes and Vanilla Lounge, have heralded a thriving new food scene.

Oakleigh even garnered international recognition last June, when The New York Times‘ food editor raved about the pork gyro he had at Kalimera Souvlaki Art, a five-year-old Greek eatery in Oakleigh’s Chester Street.

Sylvia Gabriel, who co-owns Kalimera Souvlaki Art with her husband, chef Thomas Deliopoulos, says they were “shocked” when they saw their food praised in The New York Times, even after years of local acclaim.

“It was a huge deal,” says Gabriel, who moved to Oakleigh from Greece six years ago. She says she and her husband wanted to bring “real” Greek souvlaki to Australians, who usually use lamb.

Prospective buyers are also attracted to the area’s high-quality schools, as well as its proximity to major roads and public transport lines leading from the city to the beach.

“Oakleigh is very well-connected,” says Bongiorno, who has also noticed the increasing presence of multi-story buildings and mixed-use developments.

One of those developments, Oros, is situated just north of Oakleigh’s high street at the corner of Warrigal Road and Princes Highway. In a nod to the area’s Greek heritage, the Viapac Group project takes its name from the Greek word for mountain.

The mixed-use development will include 350 apartments, 28 townhouses and 106 serviced apartments in a forthcoming hotel. The commercial space below Oros will include a restaurant, cafe and supermarket.

“We’re the largest development site in this area and we think it will be a landmark,” says Viapac marketing director K Zhang.

Oros’ location is also a major draw. Chad Arbid, director of residential projects at CBRE, says it is likely to appeal to downsizers and young professionals looking for easy access to the M1 and Princes Highway, two major roads connecting Melbourne’s CBD to the southeastern suburbs and Monash University.

It also sits within easy walking distance of one of the city’s major shopping destinations.

“The location is perfect because it is between both Oakleigh’s town centre and Chadstone, Australia’s biggest shopping centre,” says Arbid. He says the development also benefits from proximity to green outdoor spaces, such as the Scotchmans Creek Reserve, Brickmakers Park and the Huntingdale Golf Club in Oakleigh South.

Aside from a swathe of amenities, including a pool, yoga studios, bocce field, gym, rooftop garden and cinema, Zhang says all of the apartments can be fitted with Smart Home technology. Residents can use a main control panel, smartphone or tablet to control the lights, locks, curtains and sound system in the home.

“We wanted to bring some new ideas to Australian apartment living,” Zhang says.

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