West Rand Dev Trends

Posted On Friday, 23 March 2001 03:01 Published by
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Roodepoort, Krugersdorp entice developers with cheap land and wide-open spaces Gauteng's West Rand has been identified as an island of opportunity for property developers in a sea of office and retail oversupply.

Roodepoort, Krugersdorp entice developers with cheap land and wide-open spaces Gauteng's West Rand has been identified as an island of opportunity for property developers in a sea of office and retail oversupply.
Property economist Pauline Larson says cheap land, a country atmosphere, picturesque hills and valleys, and comparatively traffic-free roads have enticed extensive residential development over a decade.
The old mining towns of Florida, Roodepoort and Krugersdorp languished for years as Johannesburg's north and east became the fashionable places for people to live and work. In the south, government developed Soweto.
Then an energetic Roodepoort council began opening up land for housing in the Seventies and Eighties, supporting its development with an opera house and other facilities. But even this was overshadowed by Johannesburg's more spectacular growth.
Larson and Krugersdorp town planner Glaudi Bezuidenhout estimate that more than 1,2m m² of private housing was built on the West Rand during the Nineties. A quarter of that went up in Roodepoort in 1999 alone. Though figures for 2000 haven't been released, it's thought similar development took place last year.
Except for the Westgate shopping centre and Hillfox Power Centre, few shopping complexes have been developed in the area. But that is changing. The 44 000 m² Key West Centre in Krugersdorp, and Roodepoort's 5 000 m² Town Square on Constantia opened late last year.
Only 2 800 m² of offices was built on average each year during the Nineties. Most of the development since 1960 has been concentrated along Ontdekkers Road, which rambles west from the outskirts of the Johannesburg CBD to Krugersdorp. Developers have now shifted their attention north to Hendrik Potgieter Road, which runs from Florida to Krugersdorp.
A significant node of 54 000 m² of offices and 3 000 m² of shops has already been developed at Constantia Park, where Hendrik Potgieter meets the N1. This is where Gensec built its offices 11 years ago. Local developers have also built small offices alongside the townhouses springing up in the area.
Easy access for staff who live nearby and along the N1 are the main reasons for the move, says Banus van der Walt, head of Gensec Properties. 'Nearly 90% of our staff already lived within a few minutes of the property,' he says. Growing congestion in the current prime business areas, particularly Sandton, will add to the area's allure, he adds.
'There is an enormous amount of land for development and the councils have approved much of it for office and retail development recently,' says Larsen. Most of these approvals are restricted to cross-roads along Hendrik Potgieter as the councils try to avoid the worldwide phenomenon of commercial sprawl along arterials.
Roodepoort has approved a 50 000 m² regional shopping centre at the corner of Christiaan de Wet Road and Hendrik Potgieter. Developer Retail Africa says it should be open by 2004.
Mogale is about to approve a similar centre where Hendrik Potgieter meets the R28 highway from Pretoria. It also plans a high-density residential township where the R28, Hendrik Potgieter and DF Malan Drive form a large triangle. And it is about to launch a R600m industrial, office and retail node on 40 ha in Leratong, where Soweto meets Krugersdorp.
Building is already gathering pace. The SA campus of Australia's Monash University has opened off Hendrik Potgieter, at Ruimsig. The campus has enrolled 300 students this year, and plans to have 10 000 within 10 years.
MTN has decided to build its 100 000 m² headquarters in the Constantia node after researchers said it would be the best location in Gauteng. And other offices are going up or are planned nearby.
With the flurry of activity, however, comes a danger of overdevelopment. Roodepoort town planning applications manager Piet Concher confirms there are still plenty of opportunities for commercial rights. But the local council has no means of calculating whether commercial development is becoming overgrown. Is residential development keeping pace, and is the local population big enough to support all the growth? No-one's sure.
The property industry has a lemming-like habit of running with the crowd into new opportunities. Without planning, the West Rand could join other cities and regions in suffering from an oversupply of shops and offices

Publisher: Financial Mail
Source: Ian Fife

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