18 Sep ENGINEERING NEWS – CITY LIVING – Strong demand for new Sandton residential apartments
Development company Lushaka Investments, Portuguese civil construction group Mota-Engil Africa and banking firm Mercantile Bank collectively created a partnership for the development of the mixed-use Central Square development, located in the World Trade Centre building, in Sandton, Gauteng.
The ‘tripartite alliance’ was announced at a media briefing in Sandton, earlier this month.
“As Sandton’s skyline expands, residential buildings are being sold and earmarked for AAA-grade commercial properties. As the demand for office space grows, a shortage of quality residential property to meet the growing demand has become a new challenge,” says Lushaka Investments CEO Sergio Aquino.
Identifying a gap between affordable and high-end residential property prices in the Sandton area, he notes that the development team on Central Square entered the market at around R33 000/m2, compared with the average R40 000/m2 rate in Sandton. The price of a 89 m2 one-bedroom apartment starts at R2.90-million at Central Square.
“Offering 12 floors with 14 apartments on each level, every unit will be distinct. There are one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments available, as well as 13 elevated, bespoke penthouses. Encouraging outdoor living and dining, [and]wraparound balconies are one of the special features of this building,” Aquino explains.
He points out that all apartments feature comfortable spaces, capitalising on the trend of spacious, open-plan living. Layouts prioritise kitchen and living areas while maintaining practical, comfortable bedroom sizes with generous built-in-cupboard space. Unique features include fully integrated kitchens with Miele premium kitchen appliances, a rooftop restaurant, a sky bar, and 25 m rim-flow pool, as well as a gym and a 5 000 m2 central park, complete with water features and gravel paths.
“Since launching in mid-October last year, the uptake has been astounding – to date, more than 80 units have been sold, along with eight of the 13 exclusive penthouses, putting Central Square on target in terms of sales projections prior to construction, which has been awarded to Mota-Engil Africa,” he says.
Aquino adds that Mota-Engil Africa wants to position itself firmly in the South African market.
“Ours is a very strong alliance and we are looking forward to their footprint growing in Africa. This joint venture is marked by a culture of entrepreneurs and innovative development, and is sure to maintain a long-term strategic outlook, thus strengthening our partnership for the execution of projects in the area of infrastructure.”
Lushaka Investments partnered with Mota-Engil Africa owing to their high standards of quality, compliance, know-how and capacity.
Mota-Engil Africa CEO Gilberto Rodrigues notes that the project has all the ingredients to match its quality and standards. “The company’s commitment to quality, its goals and the growing international assertion, as well as the diversity of services offered, which [is evident] in the technical skill shown in every project, have enabled Mota-Engil Africa to build and maintain a reputation of excellence within each market that it operates,” he notes.
Lushaka’s investment in the development, including the World Trade Centre building, is in excess of R3-billion.
Mercantile Bank loaned Lushaka R600-million for the development, half of which was funded by its sister bank in Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) Group. CGD is the largest bank in Portugal, and a global financial services group, with a presence in 23 countries over four continents.
Aquino commends Mercantile Bank for its participation in this project. “We’ve always had a strong relationship and they have created a highly innovative approach to fund our development.”
In the last 30 years, most major companies have moved away from the Johannesburg central business district (CBD) to Sandton, considered by many to be the ‘richest square mile in Africa’. Many major firms have invested in Sandton property, and this has brought many JSE-listed companies to neighbouring addresses.
In the process, this has transformed the area into Johannesburg’s new business and residential hub, says Aquino, adding that the Gautrain Sandton station, which has a direct route to OR Tambo International Airport, has attracted commuters, international travellers and businesspeople, who have set up local offices and are now conducting business in the area with ease.
Since Sandton is fast becoming a gridlocked hub during peak hours, he notes, residents are seeking to live close to their offices, as well as the high-street lifestyle that the Sandton precinct has to offer. “To solve this problem for residents of Central Square, a shuttle service will be offered every 30 minutes around Sandton to the Gautrain station. Central Square is also conveniently located close to hospitals, schools, shopping centres, and the Sandton CBD,” he concludes.