By Ella Gibson
Having lived in the CBD for the past 22 years, Ian Taylor has seen his fair share of change.
“It was a very different place,” he said. “The weekends were absolutely quiet. The department stores were not open on a Sunday and, from memory, were only open Saturday morning. There wasn’t a supermarket in the CBD – 7/11 didn’t exist.”
Mr Taylor works as an owners’ corporation manager and has managed a large number of buildings in the CBD.
“When I moved into the city I did some research and, at that stage, there were 650 residences approximately in the CBD, which was virtually nothing … now look at how many there are.”
He said seeing some of the older buildings disappear was disappointing.
“There are some lovely older buildings that have been taken down. They added to the atmosphere and the character of the city,” he said.
Although busy cities often run the risk of becoming isolating, Ian said the CBD encouraged a broader community.
“I’ve maintained friendships with people that have lived in the city over that 20-year period. You don’t see them every day of the week but you bump into them and you stop and have a coffee, or sit and have a drink and catch up.”
He finds that living alone in a city as busy as Melbourne is quite liberating. One of the perks is never getting bored.
“There is so much to do now – there can be some weeks where the greatest trip out of the CBD is to the South Melbourne Market!” he said.
Living in the city also comes with downsides. In Mr Taylor’s opinion, one of the worst is the increasing number of people sleeping rough on the streets.
“We encourage a lot of tourists and people to come into the city, and for them to have to be constantly confronted (with this) I find objectionable. One can’t object to those people and their situation, of course,” he said, adding: “There has got to be something that our authorities, our council or our state government can do to assist to encourage these people to move to shelters. There’s got to be a better life for them.”
When it all gets too much, Ian said that it was nice to retreat to the country. “I like having weekends out in the country in absolute silence, because there’s never silence in the city!” he said. “Whether it’s building works or machinery or trams. You tend to turn off to that, I don’t hear it or worry about it any more.”
His favourite sightseeing spots include the Eureka Tower, but “not on the Edge … I’m not overly good with heights,” he admitted.
“I certainly wouldn’t take visitors to the Melbourne Star. It’s in the wrong spot. I’d take people to some of the cafes in the laneways, and I’d go to the banks of the Yarra and Southbank – there are some nice views of the city from there.”
Given the option to live anywhere else in the world, he’d choose Melbourne every time.
“I have no desire or interest to live overseas – I love visiting, but Melbourne’s the one,” he said.
“Convenience has got a lot to do with it. Melbourne has a brilliant transport system compared with some other cities in the world. The variety of food that’s available, the variety of entertainment that’s available – it’s all top-notch … and you can’t get a good coffee anywhere else.”