Even before its 19th season hit screens, The block is drawing the titles.
Stories of complaints about banned parking and cafes on Charming Street, Hampton East suggest locals are nervous.
An article from the Daily Mail he even suggested that the site was cursed because Judge Shaynna Blaze nearly fell on her stiletto heels at a construction site.
But if all the publicity is good publicity in the reality TV genre, executive producer Julian Cress doesn’t seem too concerned.
Set the record straight TV tonightCress says relations with the locals are friendly.
“I’d say I know 50 of the neighbors well enough to say ‘Good morning,’ and I know their names,” she said.
“99% of them are really happy that we are here. Two neighbors come to mind, one who doesn’t like us staying here and another who has started a Facebook page… but he doesn’t say he’s unhappy either. He just wants to report on everything that’s happening. So, the relationship with the neighbors is really good. Overall, 98 out of 100 people represents a pretty good strike rate.”
The block has grabbed the headlines about neighborhood attrition since its first season in Bondi, 2003. But the speed of construction is considerably faster than conventional construction sites of the same scale.
“Yesterday I received a letter from a neighbor telling me how grateful she was that we were here, because of the four-story building with the 80 apartments and 80 extra cars that would fit here,” Cress says. “…which would have taken four years to build if we hadn’t done what we’re doing.
“So a lot of neighbors understand that and are really appreciative. We are only building for three months.
But not everyone is happy, with one venue recently objecting to a McCafe site being temporarily built into a Charming Street home.
Although selling coffee would result in a council permit, one resident was unhappy that free coffees for locals could set a precedent for commercial businesses to circumvent permits in residential areas.
“The board came down and said, ‘We are terribly sorry to have to say this, but you can no longer serve your neighbors coffee for free.’ What a pity. I mean, it’s not a great result,” Cress lamented.
“Then we had to say to the other neighbors: ‘We are really sorry, we want to offer you a free coffee, but we are not allowed.’ So we sent them all a bottle of wine and said, “Sorry, only a few weeks left.” We will invite you all over for a free drink and coffee inside The block when we are allowed”.
“That was made into a story about how we are ‘doomed’ because nothing is going right for us, which I find hilarious!
“Parking stories and stuff like that… it’s not unusual when a lot of merchants come, that parking gets a little more difficult in the area for three months. I understand some neighbors’ frustration at not having the parking they are used to. And I fully sympathize. There’s not much we can do but try to manage it and encourage our people to park elsewhere.”
Meanwhile filming has just three more weeks left, before once again spearheading Nine’s primetime schedule.
When five new couples are thrown into the revamp pressure cooker, all to the edification of Reality TV viewers, you can really expect the headlines to roll.