How the next chapter of Carlton’s story is being written

From humble beginnings to one of the city’s hottest postcodes, Carlton is one of Melbourne’s oldest and most well-loved suburbs.

Nestled in Melbourne’s inner north, Carlton has a rich and unique identity. Here’s the story of how it came to be — and how the next chapters are being written.

A rich history

The traditional land of the Wurundjeri people, the area was first called Carlton by settlers seeking their riches at the goldfields. The area was subdivided in 1851 and surveyed the following year by Robert Hoddle, who carefully laid out the area’s orderly grid and abundant park spaces.

In the following decades, the suburb was to blossom, with the building of grand terrace houses and architecturally notable buildings like the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building.  

The Royal Exhibition Building is one of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks. Picture: Getty

By the 1930s, the rugged camp-style neighbourhood had transformed into a humming city suburb with a diverse demographic of people calling it home.

“Originally, Carlton was a very popular area with the migrant community,” explains Anne Flaherty, economist at

“But now it has transitioned into being a well-loved suburb for a mix of people. It’s got students, given that it’s close to the nearby university campuses.

“It’s also one of those premium suburbs on the city fringe with everything on its doorstep, making it popular among young professionals and families too.”

At the heart of the suburb is Lygon Street, a vibrant retail and dining precinct — also known as ‘Little Italy’ — that was first populated by coffee houses in the 1950s.

Today, it continues its culinary culture with a mouth-watering array of Italian restaurants, wine bars and bustling cafes.

Carlton’s housing history

For anyone walking the streets of Carlton, the first thing they’ll notice is the Victorian-era terrace houses.

These small homes are romantic with their ornate brick facades, wrought-iron picket fences and cottage-style front gardens.

Carlton is known for its tree-lined streets right next to the CBD. Picture:

However, given their age, many have fallen into disrepair and cost considerable amounts of money to renovate.

As a result, many have been converted into larger mixed-use developments and the Australian Bureau of Statistics now estimates that more than 83% of the dwellings in Carlton are units.

Impressive towers established in recent years include a 31-storey building with a portrait of indigenous leader William Barak created from the balconies.

There’s also the Upper House, a 17-storey white architectural masterpiece, which has a distinctive look made with pre-cast concrete and metal balconies.

Carlton is now among one of Melbourne’s most expensive suburbs per square metre.

A new kind of living

The face of this much-loved suburb is continuing to evolve. All across the city, the pandemic caused a shift in homebuyers’ desires with space and comfort taking priority – Carlton is no exception.

New housing is taking its cue from the area’s architectural history, while allowing the next generation of residents to write their own stories into the history of Carlton.

Located at 195 Cardigan Street, La Storia is just moments away form the heart of Lygon Street. Picture: La Storia

La Storia is a new Carlton development reshaping what the new generation of housing will be like in the area.

The spacious six-storey building is modern yet incorporates European-inspired design — a nod to the migrant history of the area.

“This is not something that you normally see,” says Flaherty.

“The fact that this development is really thinking about the heritage of the location and incorporating it, that’s very interesting.”

Each dwelling gives of a unique feeling of effortless luxury which is synonymous with European heritage. Picture: La Storia

It’s a development which is about space for living as much as it is about embracing sophistication and culture.

Gianni Mancuso, lead designer at M3 Design says the facade of the building is a solid “monolithic design” using 60 individual concrete panels, “each with their own unique detailing”.

Inside, the apartments are generously sized, with three-bedroom floorplans of up to 200sqm.

Highlights include the towering 2.7m ceilings, herringbone timber floors throughout and European marble balconies and ducted heating and cooling.

In the kitchen, there’s a stone bench, butler’s pantry, two ovens, two dishwashers, and Smeg appliances from the brand-new Dolce Stil Novo range.

Huge double-glazed windows bath the living area in natural light and there’s also a natural gas fire for those cool winter nights. Picture: La Storia

“They’re inviting and designed to function more like a home than an apartment,” adds Nicholas Kalfas, development manager for M3 Consulting.

“There is enough room to comfortably cook a large meal and clean at the same time. This gives you more time to spend with your guests and family.”

Kalfas adds that many apartments have “stunning views” across the park looking toward the city skyline.

There are also huge stamp duty savings to be had for homebuyers who sign a contract by June 30.

Under the Victorian government initiative for new homes within the City of Melbourne people can save up to $154,793 on tax.

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