Revealed: Top Sydney suburbs for creative industries

A description for “creative industries” has been done to death but it really means a move away from the generic, CBD-style office with false ceilings and grey carpet to warehouse-style buildings with exposed building “bones”.

The creative doesn’t want a CBD address but at the same time doesn’t want to suffer through loss of amenity, so when they ask for an office “close to a railway station” it generally means close to Central Railway Station.

The blue-chip creative suburb is undoubtedly Surry Hills, but Chippendale – being the home of Central Park and some recently refurbished warehouses – and East Sydney/Darlinghurst and Potts Point are not far behind it.

We have instead chosen to focus this article on the value for money and opportunity suburbs for the City Fringe creative.

Value for money and opportunities

When we say “value for money” we are thinking those suburbs that give “inner-ring” amenity without the associated rental cost. The commercial stock in these suburbs takes a little longer to lease and therefore the prudent tenant may strike a more attractive rental.

Suburbs such as Glebe, Broadway and Camperdown are minutes to the CBD by bus or light rail and have great staff amenity in the form of parks and restaurant/cafes. They are a little further from a train station generally, but that can be overcome by shower and bike rack facilities. Central Park will only add further to such amenity.

Compared to rents in Surry Hills that can top $650sqm gross plus GST, an asking rental of $300sqm gross plus GST is possible in reasonable buildings such as 263 Broadway, which is level 1, has park views and polished floorboards.

The more energetic can easily walk or cycle from such suburbs into the CBD.

Woolloomooloo is a suburb all too often overlooked when it is nearly the same as East Sydney (and shares a postcode), sporting a Woolworths supermarket and a moving walkway into the CBD from the Domain carpark.

Redfern also has similar amenity to Surry Hills, being close to major rail, but offers some good value, creative, commercial stock well below the price of the same product in Surry Hills.

The area is really coming on with its hospitality offerings and is becoming an extension of the Danks St arts precinct.

In terms of other opportunities, we would recommend some of the harder-to-lease retail spaces in South Sydney under new residential developments which are close to, or on, major arterial roads, and close to South Sydney railway stations.

In such cases the developers are often only concerned with the residential component of the development and the usual line from the developer is “we will lease the ground floor to a café or medical centres” of which we all know have probably reached saturation point.

The ground floor spaces will usually be a warm shell (air conditioning, amenities) so the space can be fitted out with a limited budget and some imagination to look industrial/creative.

Some of the strata projects in Kings Cross, Points Point have multiple spaces available so a deal can be done in one of these spaces with a landlord who needs an income stream. Think ERA and Post, where gross rentals of $500-600 per week plus GST are possible.

We have outlined some of the possibilities if appearance is your primary concern but if area is critical and Surry Hills is the ‘must have’ then we would recommend some of the older, more dilapidated buildings in the area.

There are numerous examples in Kippax, Albion, Riley and Sophia streets. Rentals of $300sqm gross plus GST are possible in such buildings.

Lastly, the final opportunity is to be flexible in your lease term. Warehouses close to the CBD will be either refurbished, making the developer increase the rental, or pulled down. The latter case offers the opportunity, as before they are demolished there is usually a period of close to a year or greater where the developer is getting their approvals.

An example is 176-182 Day St, Sydney, an original warehouse with modern cabling, that we fully leased out for just over $200sqm gross for periods of approximately nine months then a rolling month-to-month lease.