Alexandria, in Sydney’s inner-south, was traditionally an industrial suburb fringed with terrace housing. However, today this is no more. Alexandria is fast transforming into Sydney’s newest hotspot, complete with post-modern structures that blend the traditional with the new.
The transformation of the suburb is mostly due to the conversion of industrial warehouse buildings into cafes and specialty boutiques. Most the original industrial warehouse exteriors and structures have been maintained, but the interiors have been re-designed with a take of the post-modern warehouse, thereby creating a contrast between the old and the new.
The Grounds at Alexandria is a popular cafe establishment with a high-roofed indoor seating area, converted from a warehouse with minimal changes. My friend describes the outdoor space as something from a Facebook farm game, and it’s easy to see why – the exterior is sectioned into themed squares such as a hen house, a pig farm, a lemonade stand, a barbeque stand, and guests can take their pick of the barnyard complete with haystack chairs, the farmhouse, the ledge around the vegetable garden, and the greenhouse, to enjoy their meals.
A few streets away is the appropriately named Sub-Station Cafe, converted from a decommissioned electricity sub-station. Vicinity is another sleek restaurant and bar converted from a warehouse.
In the neighbouring suburb of Rosebery, a warehouse has converted to the trendy Kitchen by Mike, a large canteen-style cafe with both an outdoor terrace and indoor space. At the back of the cafe is an entrance to Koskela, a warehouse displaying modern, colourful, one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture and other homeware products. The store even has even sectioned off back area with peepholes looking through to an arts and crafts space complete with tools and machinery where creative workshops are offered.
Salt Meats Cheese is, as the name suggests, a specialty food store. It stocks a range of exotic salts,
from espresso flavoured salts to heavy Himalayan pink salt bricks and everything in between. Shoppers are invited to smell, pick and weigh the salts. The deli has been artistically designed, with meats hung at differing heights from the high ceiling. Besides salts, meets and cheeses, the store also stock exotic ingredients which Sydneysiders would probably have a hard time finding anywhere else in Sydney.
Now is the best time to visit Alexandria to experience the contrasting old and the new. The suburb retains its traditional humdrum, quiet vibe to it, however now that the suburb is in the process of being rebranded as a cool, hip hang-out, in amongst the deserted streets are deceivingly quiet warehouses, where past the entry, is a flurry of activity with crowds in excess of 100 people.