Gauteng 'mixed-use' development pushes frontiers

(Photo: supplied)
(Photo: supplied)

Johannesburg - New estates carry the stigma of being for those who have the money to live them.

It's not a stereotype entirely based on fiction as Gauteng, even from a casual observer’s point of view, has seen a noticeable uptick in upmarket estate construction over the last 15 to 20 years.

The Waterfall development, at 2 200 hectares and found either side of the N1 in Midrand, looks to have taken a different path. It's a mixed-use development, comprising housing, office, retail and light industrial spaces. Its residential model, comprised of eight different residential areas, is not just for the upper bracket.  

Willie Vos, chief executive officer of the Waterfall Management and Operating Company (WMOC), says the idea of the estate was conceived around 1997. The Mia family, who own the land on which the estate is built, came to know Vos' colleague Werner van Rhyn. Together, the idea of the Waterfall development was born.

"They wanted an integrated development and not only have the high end of the market benefitting from this," Vos said.

"They had an original master plan and initially they planned to do, amongst other things, a golf course development and also have lower income housing. It turned out that we are now planning more or less 6 500 houses, which could go up to 8 000."

The development will include housing ranging from the lower end of the market, to some of the most expensive houses in South Africa. Vos says one house currently being built on the equestrian estate, if the projected selling price and construction costs are added together, will be over R150m.

At the lower end, the total package for a home will be around R450 000.

"From a residential point of view we try to cover all sectors of the market. We believe you just can't build houses and only for one income bracket," Vos said.

"Government also wanted us to look at this. Right from the beginning we knew we had to look at an integrated housing development where many people don't actually realise that we also have built houses aimed at the lower end of the market.

"There is in fact one section we are looking at to do even more lower-end housing here, as we think it's a good thing to do, to give everyone an opportunity to be closer to work."

Job creation

The size of the development has seen the area's infrastructure receive a lot of attention, from roads, sewerage, and electricity to storm water facilities. Fibre optic cabling is also being rolled out gradually across the development.

He says building a place such as the Waterfall development is complicated, as you deal with almost every single aspect of life.

"We call it a live, work and play development. You can be born here in the hospital and you can even be buried in the cemetery and during that time you can go to school," Vos says.

"We will now have one type of tertiary institution which will be a teachers training college, but we are looking at adding in more tertiary type of education facilities as well. You can work here, you can retire here, and you can also play here, with the facilities available.”

Upon completion, it is estimated the development - including the Mall of Africa, slated to open in April next year - will be worth around R71.2bn. In addition, Attacq are building a bridge across the N1 linking up the K60 with the R101.

"As far as the job opportunities are concerned, that's something that almost automatically comes from a development like this," Vos says.

A study commissioned by the company indicated the development would have created 95 000 jobs, 55 000 of those being permanent once construction is completed between 2022 and 2023. At present moment, around 15 000 people are working on the estate, with about 9 000 of those involved in construction.

The investment in road infrastructure totals just short of R700m. Adding other bulk infrastructure pushes that investment up to around R1bn, all of which came about through private sector funding.

The WMOC work with several strategic partners, such as Calgro M3, Century Property, Atterbury and Attacq, with the WMOC co-ordinating the development of the estate. The WMOC falls under the auspices of the Waterfall Investment Company.

"From us, let's say the landowners' point of view, it was very important to get good strategic partnerships in place for the development, as it is not our core business to develop land," Vos says.

"We believe that we have got really good partners in doing this and we’re actually very proud of them. We are doing something that I think surpassed all of our expectations."

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