Joburg's Waterfall City is about to get even bigger

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There's still another 47 000 square metres of approved developments in the Waterfall City whose construction has not started.
Photo: Waterfall City
There's still another 47 000 square metres of approved developments in the Waterfall City whose construction has not started. Photo: Waterfall City
  • The Waterfall City development in Midrand has its own heliport, eight schools, a private hospital and thousands of residential homes close to large offices.
  • But the property group Attacq has even bigger plans, with 50 000 square metres of additional developments that have been approved.
  • This will include a large office component, as the company says it is benefitting from a "flight" to premium offices.

While other property companies are scaling back on developments due to the pandemic, Attacq is not changing its initial plans to turn Waterfall City in Midrand into "a world-class precinct".

Development of 38 000m2 is already under way at Waterfall City, and 50 000 square meters of additional developments have been approved and are ready to start construction.

That's over and above the 22 000m2 of residential, office and warehousing space that Attacq completed in the 12 months ended on 30 June.

Waterfall City is 2 200-hectare precinct, which includes developments completed by other developers other than Attacq. Including those properties, Waterfall City added 33 000m2 of rental space in the year ended in June.

The market value of all completed buildings is now estimated to be between R50 billion and R60 billion.

The precinct already has its own heliport for helicopters, eight schools, a private hospital and thousands of residential homes nestled close to offices of global giants like Deloitte and Novartis, as well as malls like the Mall of Africa and the Waterfall Corner.

"Our focus is to think differently about real estate through quality-focused hubs," said Attacq CEO Jackie van Niekerk. "The Waterfall precinct has an incredibly important part on the story and the future of Attacq."

In the past, Attacq focused on four businesses: the developments at Waterfall; the rest of its South African portfolio; its retail investments in the rest of Africa and its stake in the Europe-based MAS Real Estate Inc.

Now, it has decided to focus on the Waterfall City and other properties in SA, which make up a much smaller component of its portfolio.

Attacq has already sold a big chunk of its stake in MAS Real Estate, reducing it from 20.7% to 6.5% now. Van Niekerk says the company is already talking to interested parties who may want to buy its retail properties in the rest of Africa.

The office isn't dead

Attacq's chief development office Giles Pendleton says the company does not believe the office is dead. A big component of its developments under construction includes offices, alongside the growing residential units.

Pendleton says Attacq is an advantageous position with the Waterfall precinct given the flight to premium office spaces.

He said the landlord is seeing positive growth from tenants looking to consolidate their offices between Joburg and Pretoria and move into the Waterfall nodes.  

"We are building and developing on a lease basis. Our amount of speculative development is significantly down to almost zero in the Waterfall," said Pendleton.

More residential developments planned

Attacq is expanding the residential offering of Waterfall City.

In July, the company launched its latest residential development, The Mix, in partnership with D2E Properties. With apartment prices starting from R999 000, Attacq described the 14-storey Mix as its "entry-level residential product".

It said the sales targets it achieved since the launch in July have surpassed its expectations. In the year to June, Attacq also opened another residential development, the Ellipse Waterfall and transferred the first 196 apartments to new owners after the end of its financial year.

"Residential continues to sell well. For us, it's been a brilliant year for residential sales, despite the multiple lockdowns," said Pendleton.

He said the company still has "quite a lot" of residential development rights in the Waterfall City.

"I think with record-low interest rates and the right product, we are going to continue for many years to develop quality residential products in the inner city of Waterfall," said Pendleton.

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