The Leonardo will be Africa’s tallest building. Picture:   Waldo Swiegers  Bloomberg
The Leonardo will be Africa’s tallest building. Picture: Waldo Swiegers Bloomberg

Leonardo in Sandton will be Africa's tallest building

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Sep 21, 2019

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Africa’s tallest building is due to open next month as its developers seek to cash in on security fears and traffic jams by erecting an iconic high-rise residential and retail complex in the heart of Joburg’s financial district.

The Leonardo in Sandton is a 234m skyscraper within walking distance of the JSE, the headquarters of some of Africa’s biggest companies and Sandton City, a premier shopping mall.

Developed by South Africa’s Legacy Group and Nedbank Group Ltd, it will house 254 flats, a three-floor penthouse and five floors of office space as well as shops, restaurants, a nursery school, gym and a herb garden.

Joburg’s affluent typically live in large free-standing houses with rolling gardens and swimming pools behind walls with electric fences, but there is a growing trend for secure apartment living with more and more blocks going up in areas close such as Sandton and Rosebank or Menlyn in Pretoria.

“These things (buildings) are islands in quite a big market so they tend to be successful,” said Peet Strauss, Joburg developments sales manager at Pam Golding Properties.

“At the top end, we are dependent on purchases from north of our border - buyers from elsewhere in Africa who have children in university” for instance, he said.

The R3-billion building is the latest development by Legacy, which operates 23 hotels and luxury residential complexes across Africa.

Its properties range from the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton to Hotel Le Cristal in Gabon and Labadi Beach Hotel in Ghana.

Adrian Landry, general manager at the Leonardo, declined to give a price for a flat or to say how many have been sold.

At the nearby Embassy Towers, a 12-floor development, two-bedroom flats start at R7.2million.

Landry said the penthouse, which will be custom-designed by the owner and have space for six bedrooms, attracted interest from both local and West African buyers.

On a clear day, from the rooftop it is possible to see planes taking off from OR Tambo International Airport 30km away, as well as the Magaliesberg mountain range.

More than half of the flats are available on a rent-to-buy basis, with the building also serving as a hotel with one-bedroom flats costing R7250 a night or R54000 a month.

Designed by Joburg’s Co-Arc International Architects, the Leonardo supersedes the Carlton Centre as the tallest building on the continent.

The 222m Carlton Centre in the city centre opened in 1972 as a hotel owned by Anglo American Plc and now serves as the headquarters of the state port and rail company.

Of Africa’s 10 tallest buildings, four are in Joburg, three in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, two in Nairobi, Kenya, and one in Lagos, Nigeria.


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