Western Beach has long been Geelong’s best-kept secret but the cat’s now out of the bag and this inner-urban harbourside precinct of bay, cliff, yachts and parks is fasting becoming the most sought-after address in town.
And especially so among down-sizers on the hunt for a lifestyle where everything from restaurants, shopping, theatre and music to education, transport and medical are on the doorstep.
Panoramic water and urban views, balcony terraces and canny design responses are the hallmarks of The Mercer, an exquisite, $45 million residential complex soon to become an architectural landmark at Western Beach.
A tiered, 15-storey project, designed by Geelong-bred architect Steve Tillinger, of the internationally-acclaimed Peddle Thorp, The Mercer is the brainchild of Geelong developer Matthew Sun.
And it’s a sublime project, one that’s counter-intuitive to developer norms. None of your stack, pack and rack condo here. Even a cursory glimpse at the architectural images shows just how striking The Mercer is.
As Tillinger explains: “We’ve created something tailored to the street position, the public realm and urban setting.
“It’s a beautiful building. It is a sculpted design, one with many faces, one that’s refined, sophisticated and something quite unique.
“It celebrates the city’s natural beauty. It’s designed for living and ticks all the boxes for quality of life – including the waterfront promenade and walkability to amenity, retail, transport, entertainment and culture.
“It also caters to resident needs with outdoor space including a communal terrace and gym both with bay views and ground floor retailing.”
It’s easy to see Western Beach’s attraction, even before scrutinising The Mercer’s manifold attributes.
Strolling the Western Beach clifftop, or the bluestone-bordered waterline path, there’s a sea of constant birdsong — wattlebirds, herons, seagulls, cormorants, pied oyster catchers, bristle-necked grebes, plump pigeons.
A forest of masts ply the water. Peppercorns, figs, gums and palms line the grassy slopes. On a sunlit day, a diamond glister flashes over Corio Bay’s water. Boat clubs, jetties, sea cadets, slipways, gullies, fishermen and romantic night lighting all add to the ambience.
Strange tales live on in the timber bollards along the harbourfront: James McFarlane and Geelong’s claim to the ranunculi flower; a fin-de-siecle swimmer clutching Aldous Huxley’s Point Counter Point; stripe-suited rowers; Eureka Stockade’s Peter Lalor; a purple-bonneted Bible activist.
Peep back through the trees and you’ll spy fine heritage and contemporary architecture and hear the gentle hum of commerce along Mercer Street with its antiques, eateries and services.
Matthew Sun says The Mercer — his part in revealing the Western Beach secret — is a critical player in revitalising central Geelong as the region goes through dramatic population and economic change.
Shanghai-born, Sun moved to Australia in 1988 and Geelong in 1992. He is founder/CEO of BCC Group’s retail, IT service, import, export, property development and investment companies.
Sun has played a strong role in the Geelong community; an advocate for diversity, an early supporter of Pako Festa and a Chinese investment advisor to Enterprise Geelong. He says The Mercer is a passion of his to help in the making of the “new Geelong”.
“What many people outside Geelong are learning is that this population of 250,000 has four hospitals, world-class education facilities and more infrastructure than any suburb in Melbourne can offer,” he says.
“Properties in this prestigious Western Beach enclave attract the region’s top prices, so these apartments are a fantastic opportunity to acquire a lifestyle often out of reach.”
With its city fringe location, and apartment prices from $330,000 to $1 million, he expects The Mercer apartments to draw enormous interest.
As for details, The Mercer has one, two, three and four-bedroom apartment and penthouse residences with maximised natural light and views, expansive terraces and cantilevered balconies to capture bay and landscape views.
Features include floor-to–ceiling windows, warm timber floorboards, wool fibre carpets, stone surfaces and protected balconies.
Kitchens have polished stone benchtops, mirrored splashbacks and abundant storage. European appliances include wall oven, gas cooktop, rangehood and dishwasher with the option for a fully-integrated Miele fridge freezer.
Bedrooms have natural light, private balcony, generous walk-in robes and ensuites, full-length wardrobes. Bathrooms feature frameless showers, timber cabinetry and marble benchtops.
In addition, there’s a private lobby, private, secure basement parking and lift access to all levels.
All up, The Mercer boasts 128 apartments spearheading the future image of Geelong. Observers eyeing this project will find residential, environment, leisure and lifestyle seamlessly integrated.
It’s a very smooth job and if you’re keen on The Mercer something tells this scribe you’d best be quick. Given the cranes around the city right now, interest in Western Beach is obviously strong and these are the best.