Country Estate Living in Irene

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15 Jul 2013

Having earned a reputation for raising the bar in estate living over the years, Southdowns Estate’s final phase looks set to seal its status as an iconic trendsetter. 

Red and grey chromadek roofs, earth tones, rectangular forms, stone walls and farm-style elements were incorporated into the estate’s palette from the beginning.

Situated in Irene, Centurion, Southdowns Estate occupies land which originally formed part of the neighbouring 117 year old Irene Dairy Farm. Far from being a peripheral element however, pockets of the dairy’s land were incorporated into Southdowns, the upshot of which is that dairy cows now roam the estate. 

And therein lies the appeal says Jack Prentice, MD of Southdowns Management Services, who says arguably one of the primary reasons Southdowns originally stood out from other developments is because it offered a unique, farm-like lifestyle. He says residents can also directly access the dairy which now has an appealing farm shop and eateries set among the original farm buildings and beautiful old oak trees. 

The architectural style employed also appealed greatly to Southdowns’ first buyers, explains Prentice. Red and grey chromadek roofs, earth tones, rectangular forms, stone walls and farm-style elements were incorporated into the estate’s palette from the beginning. These elements are still being successfully carried through to new projects at the estate today.      

Approximately 380 freehold stands were released via Southdowns’ first phase which was officially launched in 2005. According to Prentice, the first phase met with considerable success with the majority of the stands being sold within weeks of being made available to the market.    

The first freehold stands, which measure between 980 and 3 000 square metres, were originally sold at between R600 000 and R2 million. According to Prentice, the average Southdowns freehold stand now sells for approximately R1.8 million and completed houses sell for around R4 million. The highest price achieved to date for a Southdowns freehold home is R8.5 million. 

Approximately 50 sectional title townhouses called ‘The Lofts’ were also launched in the first phase. These measure between 126 square metres and 280 square metres and typically feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gas braai and underfloor heating. 

High-end finishes come standard and some units offer swimming pools and current Lofts' prices start at R1.7 million. Prentice explains that these units have proven particularly popular with buy-to-let investors who lease them out at between R9 000 and R17 000 per month.           

In October 2011, Southdowns launched its final phase, which is being rolled out in several sub phases. The first sub phase comprised 73 freehold stands that have now sold out. 

According to Prentice, 21 of these stands which measure between 800 and 1 500 square metres are already being developed with construction of 12 more set to begin soon. 

The second sub phase was launched in January 2013 and under this banner, 37 freehold stands measuring between 750 and 1 500 square metres were brought to market at prices starting from R1.25 million. These stands have now been proclaimed and only ten remain available for sale. 

Seven luxury clusters named ‘The Paddocks’ are due to be released in July 2013 as part of another sub phase rollout. Paddocks residences will measure between 260 and 400 square metres and occupy stands measuring between 1 000 and 2 200 square metres. 

These clusters will enjoy views of Southdowns’ pastures and will feature high-end finishes. Paddocks clusters will be priced between R3.5 million and R5 million. 

Plans to develop approximately 160 additional cluster homes during the course of 2014 and 2015 are in the pipeline and upon completion, and Prentice says Southdowns will feature around 720 residences in total.  

In addition to the dairy farm, Southdowns offers a number of other convenient amenities including 13 kilometers of walking/hiking/cycling trails which bisect the estate, play parks and a fitness centre. Residents can also make use of the adjoining Irene Country Club, Irene Lodge and ‘Camdeboo Spa’. A Gautrain bus stop, the Southdowns office park and shopping centre, which features a state-of-the-art medical centre, all lie within walking distance of the estate.    

Southdowns also has a private, external educational node where students can attend a pre-school or Southdowns College which offers comprehensive academic, sports and boarding facilities. The college has proven highly popular since inception and approximately 1 350 students currently attend the it. 

A fully equipped theatre which doubles as a conference and events space has also been established at the educational node along with the Open Window School of Visual Communication which offers high-tech production studios, a research centre, creative labs, spacious lecture halls, a fully-equipped gym and cafeteria. 

Other Southdowns value-adds include a one-of-a-kind natural gas pipeline which has proven a major boon in the wake of escalating electricity costs, a fibre-optic backbone and top notch security protocols backed by military grade security cameras. 

Where possible, the estate also tries to adopt environmentally friendly practices, says Prentice. “Pockets of land have been left deliberately untouched to preserve the local fauna and flora and in a bid to further facilitate the estate’s ‘green’ credentials, over 6 000 indigenous trees have been planted and a recycling service has been established, he explains. 

He says further enhancing Southdowns’ offering is the recent introduction of 39 sectional title storage units, another first among South African lifestyle estates. Discreetly located opposite the educational node within the estate’s boundaries, the barn-style units measure between 20 and 65 square metres and can only be purchased by existing owners. According to Prentice, 80 percent of the units have already been sold off-plan.   

“Suffice to say the estate offers a lifestyle which is hard to beat. Southdowns is one of the few mixed-use lifestyle estates which has proved viable since inception and has achieved significant returns on investment. The estate was named the best performing luxury estate in Pretoria by the Financial Mail in October 2012, which is an accolade we fully intend to build on as we roll out the last phases of the estate.”       

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