Gautrain could mean big bucks for residents

The price of properties situated along the Gautrain route is set to soar.

Already developers are eyeing these properties and making owners substantial offers.

Ronald Ennik, managing director of Pam Golding in Gauteng, says he has already had several approaches from developers for his Parkwood property.

"They clearly appreciate the value and benefits of Gautrain proximity," he says.

He warns homeowners who are thinking of selling - either because they can no longer tolerate the disruption and inconvenience associated with the Gautrain development or because they think the value of their property is under threat - to think again.

"There is no question that the Gautrain-associated disruptive road closures and diversions, frustrating traffic jams, dust and construction noise, and the closure or re-location of once-convenient utilities and facilities have all combined to make life difficult and uncomfortable for those of us who live in once-peaceful suburbs close to the development action.

"And it is understandable that affected homeowners may be tempted to consider relocating to a more tranquil environment.

"However, I have no doubt that those of us who can grin and bear it will end up smiling broadly on completion of the rapid-rail project when it adds significantly - as it most certainly will - to the value of our properties.

"The very fact that developers are sniffing around and waving offers in Gautrain-adjacent residential areas supports this view," Ennik says.

According to Ennik, the subway in New York, metro in Paris and Underground in London - to name just three - have all shown that residential properties close to a metropolitan rapid-rail system carry a premium on their value.

And Joburg will be no different. Already, multimillion- rand developments are being planned around the stations. They include:

  • Old Mutual is set to invest R623-million in constructing a 160-room hotel and mixed-use development comprising retail space, a four-level basement parking garage and loft offices in Rosebank.

  • The Zone@Rosebank will be refurbished to the tune of R20,6-million.

  • Investec is to upgrade The Firs in Rosebank.

  • The Catalyst Group has proposed redeveloping The Galleria in Rosebank.

  • Zonk'Izizwe - a multibillion-rand development with retailing, commercial, leisure, lifestyle and entertainment, as well as residential and hotel components, will be established in Centurion. It has approval for 250 000sq m of retail and mixed-use business opportunities.

    Construction by Old Mutual is set to begin early next year on a site on Tyrwhitt and Cradock avenues, bordered by the Hyatt Hotel and The Firs, and The Zone@ Rosebank shopping centres.

    "The development is part of a phased precinct strategy by our group," says Brent Wiltshire, business development executive of the Old Mutual group.

    A 114-unit residential tower block on the north-western side of the site is being planned for a future phase of the development.

    "The upmarket residential apartments in a future phase will complement the existing apartment blocks in the area. They will help cater for the anticipated change in Rosebank as a result of the introduction of the Gautrain station in Oxford Road," Wiltshire says.

    The loft office units above the retail area will offer an upmarket studio environment and will be targeted at professional practices and clothing designers.

    Five buildings owned by Old Mutual in Rosebank are being demolished for the development.

    Commenting on the Gautrain, Professor François Viruly, of the School of Construction Economics and Management at the University of the Witwatersrand, said: "The impact which this could have on residential and commercial property values will largely be influenced by whether the property market is allowed to run its course and adjust to this altered infrastructural environment.

    "The development of the Gautrain will result in new land uses and development opportunities."

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