12 Feb 2013
Menlyn, a traditionally residential suburb to the east of Pretoria, is undergoing a dramatic facelift that began in post-Apartheid years and has been expedited by the City Council’s newly approved spatial development framework (SDF).
This is according to Dennis Hamer, owner and co-principal of Harcourts Capital, who says the new development plan will fast track the evolution of the area from a predominantly single-storey residential suburb to a vibrant checkerboard of multi-storey apartment blocks and upmarket offices.
He says within easy access of popular leisure-time haunts such as the Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, Menlyn Square with its vibrant nightlife and host of eateries, and Loftus Rugby Stadium as well as the N1, Menlyn is proving a hit among the young and upwardly mobile.
Further underpinning the revitalisation of the Menlyn Node, he says, is the new R2.6 billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, phase 1 of which is due to commence operating in April 2014. This quick and cost-effective transport link between Menlyn and the bustling suburbs of Sunnyside, Akasia and Hatfield, is likely to further boost Menlyn’s appeal as an ideal live, work and play destination, he says.
According to Hamer, a key element of the SDF is that it promotes vertical residential redevelopment and densification in the area, hence the wave of high-rise construction in both the residential and commercial sectors. He explains that single storey houses are not nearly as financially viable as multiple storey buildings, hence the trend for developers and investors to buy the old houses for their land value and then knock them down to make way for high-rise apartment and office buildings.
Young career-minded people who are moving into the area in a steady stream to take up jobs in the new office blocks are also the most active element of the current buyer pool, says Hamer. “They’re predominantly interested in affordable, lock-up-and-go living, within easy access of their workplaces, hence the present undersupply of residential sectional title.”
This, he says, bodes well for developers wanting to capitalise on the need for apartment living in all price brackets, though vacant land is almost as rare as hen’s teeth.
Accordingly, he reports strong interest in a 5 600 square metre plot in Matroosberg Road that already has the rights in place for a 61-apartment block. On the market for R7 million, he says, the property is ideally located for those working in Menlyn as well as people requiring easy access to other work centres.
In support of this assertion, he says, is the new 13 000 square metre Podium Office Block, which, within two weeks of launching, was fully rented out. “Employees will need somewhere to live, with the focus on affordability and commuting convenience. This site, with its quick access to the recently upgraded Garstfontein/N1 interchange, is therefore an excellent investment opportunity.”
Those with serious spending power can look forward to the construction of Menlyn Towers, a Michaelanglo Hotel look-alike on the corner of Garstfontein and Matroosberg Roads in the future. Hamer says, the 26 000 square metre site is earmarked for the development of a 20 storey landmark building that will comprise a hotel (for which there is already a lease in place) as well as a limited number of upmarket residential apartments and A-grade offices.
He expects take-up of the apartments, which will range in size from 200 to 400 square metres, to be dominated by professionals, many of whom are likely to live and work there during the week and then jet off to their family homes on the weekends.
Aside from the trend towards sectional title living, Hamer also reports rising buying interest in sectional title office space. “We’re seeing increasing demand from people working from home wanting to relocate to more professional work premises.”
He says they can buy as little as 100 square metres of space for between R15 000 and R18 000 per square metre, compared with serviced grade A office space, which rents for up to R190 per square metre per month.
He says take for example an office of 200 square metres, which would command a monthly rental of around R34 000. The same space, if purchased, he says, would incur monthly bond repayments of around R27 000, so it really makes financial sense.
This trend, he continues, has in turn triggered the growth of medical suites, the result of related professionals buying offices next to each other. He says doctors are buying alongside dentists; attorneys are buying next to insurance brokers and architects. Hamer says it’s an affordable, practical win-win situation for everyone.
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