PE's landmark Seaview Hotel sold

19 Jun 2007

The uncertainty surrounding the future of Port Elizabeth's landmark Seaview Hotel has ended with its purchase by the Kat Leisure Group on June 12.

Sold on site by auction for R15, 4 million, the Seaview Hotel has now become part of the Kat Leisure Group's stable of blue chip developments. The group already owns the Simola Golf Estate in Knysna, the Osner and Kennaway Hotels in East London, and has also just acquired an operator's license for a casino in Queenstown.

According to auctioneer Duncan McLaggan of McLaggans Nationlink in Port Elizabeth, the prices fetched for both the hotel and certain adjoining properties were marginally more than he had expected, although they remained in line with real estate prices in the Seaview area.

The auction also moved three vacant stands adjacent to the hotel along with a fourth, developed property. These sites sold for an average price of just over R700 000 each.

Headed by Avril Kaschula, the Kat Leisure Group operates a number of highly reputable establishments throughout the Eastern Cape. Expectations are that development of the Seaview Hotel will be in line with the group's tried and tested modus operandi which successfully blends hotel accommodation with a residential component.

"We envisage establishing a boutique hotel combined with a private residence club," Kaschula says. Comparing it to the group's Simola Golf Estate in Knysna, he says the hotel will offer a range of exclusive upmarket facilities to which investors of the private residence club will have access. The club, which will comprise a number of townhouse units, will be managed and operated under the hotel's name. Investors who don't wish to live permanently in the development will be able to rent out their units through a rental pool.

Kaschula's group will spend the remainder of the year planning the project, as well as deciding on a name for it, with building expected to start in full swing early in 2008.

The price of vacant stands in Seaview and surrounding areas has increased dramatically over the last five years and land is in high demand, says local market specialist Bradley Olver, principal of Bradley Olver Properties. Evidence of the demand for local real estate is the breach of the R1m ceiling for vacant plots, which occurred last year. "In the first quarter of 2006, a plot measuring just under 900m2 sold for R850 000. Less than six months later, it was re-sold for R1, 1 million," he says.

At the auction, the vacant stands adjacent to the Seaview Hotel, which measure around 1 100sm each and are situated within 500m of the sea, sold for R575 000, R660 000 and R712 500 respectively. The developed site changed hands for R875 000 to an undisclosed buyer who also bought two of the vacant stands. This is creating speculation that another new development is in the pipeline.

The purchase of the Seaview Hotel by the Kat Leisure Group has been welcomed by residents and estate agents alike. Olver says property prices in the immediate vicinity of the hotel have been negatively influenced as a result of its severe neglect. The upgrading of the hotel will, however, turn the situation around, he believes. "Its renewed appeal is likely to precipitate a strong wave of growth in the village which has long been popular for its magnificent sea views, low crime rate and easy access to the centre of Port Elizabeth," he says.
Demand for property in Seaview also extends to sectional title units, according to Durr Estate's Letitia van Rooyen. She says there is enormous scope in this sector considering that there is just one residential complex with only five units in the village at the moment. The upgrading of the hotel not only has the potential to stimulate other development in the suburb but could breathe new life into its commercial sector, too. "Seaview needs more business ventures and an influx of visitors and investors will contribute towards the growth of this market."

Says McLaggan: "Seaview residents are satisfied that the hotel is now in the hands of a reputable hotelier and development company, whose commitment to the upgrading of the property will certainly add value to local real estate." - Ingrid Smit

For more information contact Duncan McLaggan at 041 363 5895 / 082 800 2338.

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