Africa’s financial hub moves north
(Johannesburg) – The City of Gold is on the move – northwards. Dictated by the need for growth in what is becoming a saturated Sandton marketplace, the push north has begun.
When the secure golfing and residential estate Dainfern opened its doors in 1992, the area around that northern part of Johannesburg was largely undeveloped and seen as being in “the country”.
Today, it is part of a thriving hub that is at the heart of the new metropolis. This as Africa’s financial hub, Johannesburg, shifts on its axis. Growth over the last 25 years has been exponential, as more residential developments have mushroomed – among them the upmarket, secure gated estates of Steyn City and Helderview.
A catalyst to the burgeoning growth of this node has been the upgrading of William Nicol to the N14 and plans for a Gautrain station and public transport routes to link with the fast-expanding Lanseria Airport. As with major cities like London, secondary airports have created new business nodes as air travel becomes a natural component of business, and developers expect Lanseria to be no different.
Abacus Development Company* is one of the businesses betting on the growth spurt. To meet the growing needs of this fast developing new business and residential northern hub, Abacus built Dainfern Square Shopping centre which last year clinched the SACSC National Retail Design and Development Award in the category for new neighbourhood and convenience shopping centre smaller than 20,000m².
Designed by dhk architects, the centre boasts a 3,000m² flagship Woolworths Food, a Pick n Pay, Dischem, various restaurants, a state-of-the-art Virgin Active and commercial offices which include a Regus Business Centre.
To support the demand for upmarket “executive accommodation” in the burgeoning node, Abacus has now introduced what it describes as “a whole new level of convenience, luxury living”.
“We are excited by the speed with which development has taken place north of Sandton, but not surprised,” said Gavin Blows, managing director of Abacus. “There is such congestion in Sandton, which is bursting at the seams. As a result of this our footfall and trading densities have shown such tremendous growth that we have brought forward our second phase of the development.
“A natural progression was for expansion northwards, and that is what is happening. We wanted to give executives the chance to live in a mixed-use environment – one that is secure, close to every amenity and within easy reach of the shifting financial hubs of Johannesburg.”
And so the concept of the luxury executive apartments was born with 108 one, two and three bedroomed apartments built – directly above Dainfern Square shopping centre.
“No expense was spared in the fit and finish. We have included solid hardwood floors, European contemporary kitchen designs, imported Italian tiles, state-of-the-art light fittings,” said Blows. “We wanted luxury, along with convenience of having restaurants, retail and a gym all at your front door, to be at the heart of this project.
“People lead extremely busy lives, so time is a hugely important commodity and the market is demanding such an offering. Added to this our focus on security, which includes biometric access, private garages, 24hr camera monitoring is all elegantly linked to a private concierge facility.
“Taking away some of the stresses associated with city living is what we hope to achieve with Dainfern Square Luxury Apartment living.”
Blows said the pilot project, first introduced in Stellenbosch where Abacus is based, had been “extremely successful”. Based in the Eikestad Shopping Centre, the Andringa Walk apartments had seen the price rise from R32,000 per square metre to R50,000 per square metre.
“In Johannesburg I see these high-end apartments being ideal for executives and high net worth individuals who need easy access to fast travel mediums such as airports and highways. Meanwhile, their stay at the apartments will be convenient and high-security,” he said.
Project manager at Abacus, Martin Lange, said the big push northwards was the result of a confluence of factors.
“We are seeing the shifting axis of Johannesburg’s business core by the major infrastructure upgrade, the proliferation of new office developments, the investment in large mid-range residential developments and a dramatically improved and expanded road network,” said Lange.
He used the upgrade to the Fourways Mall – currently under construction – as an example of the preparation for this unprecedented rapid growth of the northern node.
“A tangible example of the growth is to count the amount of tower cranes in the area. It really is a high growth node. The market goes where it needs to develop and part of that development can only happen if there is an adequate road network. Well, we are seeing improved access on a daily basis. The push north is happening,” he said.