Where history meets the surf: Bondi’s downsizing gem

Credit: Downsizing
Where history meets the surf: Bondi’s downsizing gem
Written by: Ron Reed

Bondi Beach in Sydney’s east is known around the world for its golden sands, refreshing surf and celebrity-studded cafes and walking paths. However, many people may not realise there is a piece of downsizing heaven which directly overlooks Bondi Beach.

Built in 1915 in the Commercial Palazzo style, the Bondi Beach Astra is a six-storey local landmark.  Situated on Campbell Parade, the Astra was for decades one of Sydney’s classiest and most popular hotels. It was known for having one of the largest bars in Sydney along with a dining room which would attract the city’s A-set.

In 1984, the hotel was converted into a retirement village. It has 55 units and facilities including a pool and spa, a library, a gymnasium, a games room, resident’s lounge and an outdoor entertainment area.

Aaron Ross, who is the village manager of the Bondi Beach Astra, says the complex attracts both residents from the nearby area and those from further afield who are keen to lap up all that Bondi Beach has to offer. “The majority of new residents have come from larger premises, whether they were houses or apartments. They see the benefits of downsizing and de-cluttering as being a part of their new beachside lifestyle here at the Astra,” he said. “Downsizers generally make the conscious decision to reduce the need for cleaning and maintenance, thus increasing time and energy for leisure activities. Being an operator run village, Bondi Beach Astra provides exactly that opportunity to residents.

“The remainder are single residents who have recently lost a loved one and they or their family are feeling that they are not being as socially active in their current state.  The social camaraderie of a village can alleviate that loneliness and provide an operator to assist with some tasks and other residents or the social club to keep the resident feeling young and invigorated by life.”

It’s fair to say that the Astra is the epitome of that old real estate saying: location, location, location.

“The most unique feature about the Bondi Beach Astra is how close we are to such an iconic and famous beach and its associated facilities,” Mr Ross said. “This is the beach where Prince Charles went for a swim whilst on holiday, the beach that has become a pilgrimage for so many people on their bucket list and the beach that has spawned its own television series.

“No other retirement village in Sydney has this immediate access to such a well-known location. It truly is an amazing place, what with all the comings and goings of famous people who all want to see and be seen here.

“One road with a traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing at the front door is basically all you need to pass to reach the golden sands of the most iconic beach in Australia.

“This, coupled with fantastic eateries, bars and the famous Icebergs Club only a few hundred metres away, make the Bondi Beach Astra a great place to live.”

Although the Astra is situated right alongside the beach, with all its people watching, swimming and enjoying other lifestyle opportunities, Mr Ross said the Astra’s in-house facilities are still very important for residents.

“Just like normal everyday people, the residents like to relax and unwind after their outing or after a day of volunteering and are able to use the village facilities for just that purpose. They also like the comfort of the security building with daytime concierge and the fact that there are no noisy youngsters having a party down the hall or upstairs” he said.

The Astra’s conversion into a retirement village in the early 1980s didn’t come at the expense of the building’s history.  

“The façade is original and iconic in the area, having been a local sentinel for nearly a century,” Mr Ross says. “The foyer still retains the ornate arched and vaulted ceiling and the original fountain is still in place.”

“This sense of history and style carries through other common areas of the village with some amazing pictures of life in Bondi from way back when.

“The residents are very proud of their home and this adds to the camaraderie and feel.”

Units in the Astra are available under a leasehold arrangement where the resident occupies the unit under a lifetime lease agreement. This lease is registered on the title deed held by Land and Property Information. This gives the residents certainty of occupation and provides them with certain rights as the registered interest holder. Even though not owning the bricks and mortar, the resident receives 100% of the capital gain upon departure, making it a very attractive proposition.

Mr Ross said residents tend to move into the Astra at a younger age, while they can still take advantage of all the vibrant locale has to offer. He says this translates into fewer units being available to occupy per year (compared to the retirement industry as a whole) as the residents are also therefore typically healthier.

Once here they are so happy to have achieved the lifelong dream of the “Bondi beachfront lifestyle” and being a retirement village meant it was cheaper than a strata unit in the area, but also part of a community of like-minded, similarly aged friends.

“Units typically are not vacant for too long as demand exceeds supply,” Mr Ross said. “Residents that have vacated recently have had a tremendous increase in the value of their property as the residents here receive 100% of the capital gain, yet another value-added benefit to the residents.”

Asked about the prices of the units, Mr Ross said: “Past sales vary hugely on the location of the unit within the building eg beachfront vs district views, size, number of bedrooms, layout and renovation status, so it is best for aspiring residents to contact the Astra for more information in this regard.”

Click on this link to find out more about living at the Bondi Astra or to make an enquiry.

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