Sandton hard sweet work

Posted On Thursday, 03 November 2011 02:00 Published by
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The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote that change in all things is sweet. Scottish comedian Billy Chrystal said that change is just a lot of hard work! Witnessing the changes to the Sandton CBD skyline you may see something sweet here and there, but it’s mostly the result of a lot of hard work

Much has been publicised about SandtonCity’s big R1.77bn first phase expansion. One can’t help draw attention to Sandton City's retail space expansion to a total of 143 690m² upon completion of the first phase this month, taking the complex, which includes the Sandton hotel and office component, to 215 000sqm. But there is more happening in Sandton beside Sandton City.

Part of what was once referred to as the wealthiest square mile in Africa, the Village Walk,  these days only attracts a steady stream of JSE visitors’ vehicles seeking a parking space. Management of the once thriving collection of eateries and fashionable boutiques seemed to lose any sense of vision in the early 2000s. The once fashionable in-spot of the 90’s, sadly, has discount posters in its windows and wispy tumble-weeds of litter blowing about its courseways.

Having started as a rumour earlier in the year, it’s now conventional wisdom that the Village Walk will be demolished and even that 60 year old Grand Dame the Balalaika Hotel will be torn down and resurrected on the corner of Maude Street and Rivonia Road. Of course it was never a matter of competing with its two sisters Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square, rather it will be a matter of complementing and supplementing those enormously successful retail and entertainment venues. The current Village Walk basement will be retained and two floors of retail and some office space will be layered above. The whole development will be in four phases over eight years. Only a couple of blocks from the Gautrain station the venue has exciting potential. An international hotel is also on the cards making up the rest of the 180 000sqm of the project’s space.

Investors are showing enthusiasm for the acquisition of land or buildings for redevelopment close to the Gautrain station and it is envisaged that the area surrounding the station will be the centre of sustainable growth in the value of commercial property. There are even plans afoot to build above the station itself!

115 West Street, right opposite the station, is the future site of the Alexander Forbes head office for its approximately 2200 Johannesburg staff. The refurbished, eight storey 36 950m² office building will be embracing some green building codes with all natural light and energy efficient lighting. Throw in super fast lifts and state-of-the-art auditoriums  stuffed with all the latest technology, a gym, snazzy coffee shop and staff restaurant and you have a self contained little urban island. Nebank is putting up the R840 million funding for the development. This will become Zenprop’s Properties’ flagship of South African commercial properties. Alexander Forbes is expected to take occupation of the building on 1 October 2012.

Characterised by a large number of owner occupied developments and with the majority of international banks, the JSE Securities Exchange, legal and management consultancies, Sandton, is widely acknowledged as the premier financial district in South Africa. There are currently over thirty development applications for the Sandton CBD, which includes  zoning changes  and renovations.

One such revamp is Southern Sun’s landmark Grayston Hotel. It’s closing its doors next month with a proposal having been lodged for the redevelopment of the building.

Other developments on the boil are 20 000sqm of sectional title office space on the corner of Katherine and West Streets – for occupation in 2013; 6 Sandown Valley Crescent, with a gross lettable area of 18 000sqm and a projected completion date of mid-2011; 16 000sqm at 1 Protea Place, with Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Attorneys as a tenant plus other smaller tenants; and Sandhurst Office Park, where 26 000sqm of office space becomes available in 2013.

Much of the demand for development seems to revolve around the financial sector. Developments planned over the next five years include: 9 000sqm at 140 West Street; 35 000sqm for Standard Bank at 11 Alice Lane; 150 000sqm on the site of the old Sandton municipal offices; and at FNB Towers, 25 000sqm of additional space.

One of the biggest changes to the Sandton skyline will be on the corner of West, Stella and Rivonia Roads. Insurance giant, Old Mutual, wants new headquarters in South Africa. Its answer is to build a multi-storey office precinct next to the Gautrain station. Old Mutual is to move their head office from President Street in Jo’burg’s CBD to where the Chadrien Place building stands, at the corner of Rivonia Road and West Street. The first 50 000 square meters will be ready for occupation by 2013, and the final product will be a 35 storey building. Chadrien Place is currently an ageing Tudor-style block of 33 flats. On average units were valued at about R1,5m a couple of years ago. That all changed thanks to the Gautrain. Old Mutual is believed to have paid R400 million to a development consortium for the Chadrien Place site.

Finally on the auction front, one gets an idea of the demand in the CBD. During Auction Alliance’s September multiple auction event, two A-Grade office blocks in the heart of the Sandton CBD, offering a first rate development opportunity, were sold for R48.5 million. With A Gross Lettable Area of 2530sqm, this represents a bulk value of over R19,000/sqm.
 
There may be an economic down turn, but the future for Sandton looks set to change. For some it’s going to be sweet, for others, a lot of hard work.


Publisher: eProp
Source: eProp

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