Arriving at the location of the 12th season of the Nine Network’s reality renovation show The Block, two things are immediately evident.
Firstly, the building itself – a former soap factory with stunning art deco details, purchased by Nine for $5 million in early 2016 – is unique and the most striking the show has ever featured.
The heritage-listed factory has a distinct art deco feel, with grandiose staircases, marble floors and mirrored walls in its entry hall.
However, the location of the building is terrible, situated in a particularly unsightly part of Port Melbourne, among several construction sites and factories.
One onlooker told The New Daily it wasn’t always so crowded – after producers purchased the property, other building sites started springing up around it.
It’s unfortunate for the stars of the show because, despite all their hard work, their spacious, light-filled apartments look out onto construction workers and concrete.
Once those construction workers have finished the job, the apartments will look out into the living rooms and bedrooms of other apartment buildings.
With sweeping, loft-style windows in almost every room of every apartment, it would prove challenging to escape this view.
Regardless, there are high hopes for this year’s auctions. While reserve prices are yet to be set, those involved in the construction of the kitchens told The New Daily contestants were hoping for more than $2 million per apartment, with the kitchens alone worth tens of thousands of dollars.
The median house price in Port Melbourne is $1.38 million, so these expectations are comparatively exorbitant, particularly for apartments.
In previous years, the show has had some surprising auction results, from the abysmal – when season nine’s contestants struggled to get above their reserve – to the incredible – when season-10 contestants Darren and Deanne pocketed $835,000 after their apartment sold for $2.29 million.
It’s worth noting that record-breaking season was filmed in the swish Melbourne neighbourhood of South Yarra, on one of the suburb’s most desirable streets.
Disregarding location and judging on furnishings and design alone, this year’s homes are more than capable of making the big bucks.
Each of them is different in their own way, but all are complete with glistening, state-of-the-art kitchens and bathrooms. However, there are a couple of standouts in the pack.
Here are the five contenders:
Apartment one: Karlie and Will
Sophisticated neutrals with matte black and gold accents give this elegant apartment an expensive feel. Their winning kitchen (it scored a nearly impossible 30/30) is an obvious standout.
Apartment two: Dan and Carleen
Half bachelor pad (think wood panelling, 1970s touches and red wine-friendly textiles) and half feminine hideaway (pastels, pastels and more pastels), this apartment subtly maintains the art deco theme of the building.
Apartment three: Ben and Andy
In a nutshell, you can tell this apartment was designed by two men with little interior design experience (no offence boys!). The furnishings are a bit confused and there are some ill-advised colour choices and wall art selections, but the core elements are functional and modern.
Apartment four: Julia and Sasha
A clear standout, this elegant, sun-drenched apartment is evidence of Julia and Sasha’s keen eye for detail. Distinctly feminine, it elicited plenty of oohs and ahhs on the walk-through thanks to its covetable bathrooms and master walk-in robe.
Apartment five: Kim and Chris
Another standout, this is the only truly family-friendly offering in the building. Exposed brick walls and earthy tones give it a homey, lived-in feel and the massive master bedroom/walk-in robe/lounge combo is a sight to behold.
Soon-to-be-revealed terrace gardens and a stunning communal rooftop top it all off and make it clear this is by far the best Block building yet.
Whether that’s enough to win over the punters despite its location remains to be seen, but we’ll know for certain when the homes go to auction on November 12.