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Taking a bite out of the Big Apple

Inner City Sydney may become Manhattan down under. REPORT KIRSTEN CRAZE & ALEXANDRA WALKER report in Central Courier 3rd February 2005 on a recent report from the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources.

Sydney's population is expected to grow to more than 5 million by 2031, according to a recent report from the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources.

The northern CBD, classed under the statistical division Sydney (Inner), is expected to double its population from 5270 in 2001 to 11,920 in 2031. Suburbs including Ultimo and Pyrmont, referred to separately in the report as Sydney (remainder), are slated to experience a similar increase growing from 67,570 to 121,590.

According to the report the median age in Sydney (inner) will rise from 36 to 40, while Sydney (remainder) is projected to experience a smaller age increase from 32 to 33. In both areas the percentage of children under 14 is expected to decrease. Demographer and social trends analyst Bernard Salt said the projected increase was consistent with recent trends.

"People increasingly want to live as a single or in a couple," Mr Salt said.

"The Inner City will be an area dominated by the childless. Without children people can afford to live down town, they have time that isn't spent mowing lawns or taking kids to schools so they become more involved in the cultural life of the city."

Mr Salt said he envisaged a New York-style city centre where people lived in high-rise buildings, were career-oriented, didn't drive often or leave the Inner City.

"They live exactly the same way that you have people living, working and mating on

Manhattan Island and the only reason they leave is to go to JFK Airport or the Hamptons," he said. "We're looking at 30,000 people per square kilometre; in New York City it can be double that. It is possible to live a very affluent lifestyle in such a crowded space."

Having a vibrant New York-style area in the Inner City will help to stem the brain drain and will attract the brightest minds in Australia, he said.

"If we don't follow this path you'll have bright young graduates saying, `I don't want to live here it's too boring'," he said.

"I think it's a great thing.

"We need high-rise living, we don't need it all up and down the coast. But this is a unique precinct and living that way is as legitimate as a quarter acre block in Penrith."

Karen Allan, from the Real Estate Institute of NSW, agreed the Inner City was likely to be populated by childless couples and singles living in units or townhouses, but said she expected the property market to remain strong.

"The Inner City area has always been a strong market, for the last 20 years, and will continue to be a strong market as more people want to live close to the CBD," she said. "There's no doubt that the last three or four years the price scope in Sydney has been strong. What we're having now' is a slow down, rather than a bubble bursting.

"If you look at the long-term, over the past 50 years, there's never been a crash in the property market in Sydney."