Evans Head housing boom

By RENEE REDMOND and RACHEL SCOLLAY staredit@northernstar.com.au

SYDNEY business man Stephen Capelin is redeveloping three Evans Head properties but he hopes the quiet little town won't be discovered. He's too late. The median house value in the town has soared by $150,000 over the past year alone to $389,000. At the same time the population has been growing steadily; jumping by about 800 people over the past decade from 1800 to 2600.

Richmond Valley Council Director of Development and Environmental Services Ken Exley said beachfront blocks were fetching up to $1 million and millionaires were putting in develop- ment applications to build mansions on the blocks. Mr Exley said some of the mansions proposed had the same scale and foot- print as a block of units. "We never conceived we would be seeing this sort of size homes for single dwell- ings," he said. "It could be a good thing because we might be turn- ing away from high density development." LJ Hooker director, Brian O'Farrell, said the face of Evans Head was changing. "Original homes are be- ing knocked down and re- placed with either modern holiday homes or unit blocks. The whole town is being upgraded," he said.

Business operators say they're seeing a new pros- perity in the town. Butcher and Chamber of Commerce treasurer, Mick Metcalfe, said Evans Head businesses had noticed a marked jump in trade dur- ing the past five years. Mr Capelin and his wife Elizabeth, both property de- velopers, and their son Samuel, spend every school holiday in Evans to relax. "We go for a surf in the morning and afternoon and go for walks on the beach," Elizabeth said. The Capelin family have bought two houses next to each other in Park Street. They have already shifted one house to their acreage block at Woodburn making way for a modern four-bed- room holiday house and plan to renovate the proper- ty next door in the future. Mr Capelin said his only concern for the town was greedy property developers.

"There are some develop- ers who like to jam every- one into units. As long as the council doesn't let that happen it won't be in dan- ger of becoming a little Sydney," he said. Evans Head builders Trent Brown and Toba Betts said the developments had provided them with plenty of work. "We spend 90 per cent of our time working in Evans Head now," Mr Brown said. "It used to be a sleepy town but these days there are a lot of wealthy inves- tors coming in. "It's a catch 22 because we love the work but we don't want Evans Head to be over-developed." Mr Betts said those who could afford it were snap- ping up what land was left. "Most of the work we do is building houses on blocks where the original house has been removed," he said.

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