Areas and Places

Centre upgrade fuels interest in Old South suburbs

News that the 45-year-old Southdale shopping centre is undergoing a R70m revamp has added fresh impetus to the rejuvenation of the residential property market in this older suburb, as well as the surrounding areas of Booysens, Ridgeway, Robertsham and Turffontein.

So says Spencer Morby, area specialist for Chas Everitt International, who notes that large numbers of young buyers attracted by affordable pricing, good schools and the proximity of these suburbs to the Johannesburg CBD have been moving in and steadily upgrading their homes here for the past few years, to the benefit of the overall area.

“The city council has also put money into infrastructural elements such as the local roads and parks and the increased appeal of these suburbs is reflected in the fact that the average upper price limit for homes here has moved from around R700 000 in 2006 (when the property market was really booming) to about R1,4m currently. This has no doubt also played a role in the decision by the owners of the Southdale centre to go ahead with a multimillion-rand upgrade.”

Indeed, says Chris van Reenen, a director of 1Eighty which bought the centre two years ago, the company’s research ahead of the overhaul showed that Southdale had excellent prospects, as it enjoyed strong support from the employees of businesses in the area as well as residents of the densely-populated surrounding areas – who are mostly young (aged 20 to 44), middle-income people with families.

The upgrade involves the modernisation of the centre’s public spaces, expansion of its fashion and food offerings and the creation of more parking, and the first phase is due for completion in December. “This is another strong mark of confidence in this area and will, in turn, give more homeowners here the confidence to invest in improvements,” says Morby.

As it is, the area continues to grow in popularity among a wide range of homebuyers from working singles to young families to well-established business executives and professionals such doctors and lawyers, he says, with the major draw-card being the proximity of these suburbs to the centre of Johannesburg and quick, easy access via the freeway network or public transport.

“Affordability is, of course, also a big attraction for younger buyers, with one-bedroom flats available at prices from R350 000 to R750 000 and two-bedroom options on sale for between R550 000 and R800 000.

“For families, however, schools and colleges are also a very important consideration, and this area boasts some excellent public and private options, including the Robertsham and Winchester Ridge primary schools, Sir John Adamson and Hoërskool President. And comfortable family homes in quiet neighbourhoods close to these schools cost an average of around R1,2m.”

For young marrieds keen on renovating an older home, he says, there are fixer-up houses on stands of around 1000sqm available for around R850 000, while fully-renovated, more luxurious properties in these suburbs generally sell for around R1,3m.

Morby also says several mosques have also been built in the area in the past few years, and that this has of course also added to its appeal for many Muslim buyers from Lenasia and other suburbs further from the centre of Johannesburg.