An artist’s impression of Hill on Empire – Abland’s new 35,000sqm A-grade office park development in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Abland is developing the 35,000sqm A-grade office park development in Parktown called Hill on Empire. This is the first new office park development to be constructed in this Johannesburg node in more than 10 years.
The development is strategically positioned in Johannesburg’s leafy green suburb of Parktown, surrounded by the city’s leading education, cultural and heritage node. Situated in a prime position on the corner of Empire and Hillside Roads, Hill on Empire is in Parktown’s green belt, at the gateway to the city, surrounded by Wits University and many of the city’s cultural landmarks.
The first of the four buildings being constructed in this secure R700 million precinct will be complete in June 2016 with a sub-divisible gross lettable area of 6,800sqm. The current programme will see Abland fully develop the office park by 2019.
Abland saw the potential in this uniquely located site almost a decade ago, acquiring and land-banking it for the right opportunity to optimise its investment. Since then, portions of the site have been developed to house the SAPS headquarter and a BP filling station.
Donald Majola, Development Manager at Abland, explains that the development coincides with a growing demand for new, quality office space in the node. “The Parktown area hasn’t received new product for the past 10 to 15 years, although many office buildings in the node have received revamps,” he notes.
One of the changes that played a big factor in commencing with this development, is Johannesburg’s new transport corridors, which now place Hill on Empire at the crossroads of many transport systems, giving it exceptional accessibility.
While always well positioned, the site is now ideally connected with the BRT Rea Vaya bus stop a mere 50 metres away from Hill on Empire and the closest Gautrain bus stop 100 metres away. In addition, Empire Road is a main route for Metro Bus and minibus taxis. The park also has good highway access to easily connect it to the entire Johannesburg Metro and beyond.
This quality new A-grade office park also offers a compelling business case. Its rentals compete with those of the B-grade office buildings which make up most of the commercial property stock in Parktown.
Contributing to this are the significantly higher efficiency levels that new office developments are able to offer their users. Not only is this environmentally mindful, but it also translates to financial savings for its occupants.
Majola says: “We identified a gap in the market and are delivering a competitive product in an excellent location. Hill on Empire will be comparable to the A-grade offices associated with Sandton and Rosebank, but will come at a more affordable cost of occupancy and with an exceptional ease of access for people who use both private and public transport. It also benefits from the unique heritage of this education node, which people are incredibly passionate about and loyal to.”
It is the legacy of this area that has inspired the design of Hill on Empire which will echo a look and feel typical of Parktown architecture, with added inspired modern touches creating a compelling mix of old and new. The office park also includes green spaces, water features and a coffee shop, to provide relaxing social spaces.
Majola notes: “At Hill on Empire we are creating a quality asset in a safe environment. Its buildings will have large floor plates, facilitating easily sub-divisible and flexible offices. The office park will feature generous parking, great security and will be ideal for all kinds of companies but especially financial institutions, call centres, training or education centres and any people-intensive businesses.”
Abland isn’t only bringing a quality new development to the area, it is also making an investment in Parktown with its unique approach that considers how its buildings relate to their neighbouring surrounds, to create a well-rounded precinct design.
“Hill on Empire will add features like pedestrian crossings to help people reach their bus stops safely, additional vehicle turning lanes to keep traffic flowing, and dustbins to help keep streets clean. By enhancing our surroundings and making our development work for the node, everyone wins. We want to be a good neighbour.”
The positive impacts of this development kick in right from the start of construction because Abland insists that for every development its does, it contractors contribute towards and monitor job creation – permanent and temporary – as well as skills development and transfer.
“We’re not only building offices, but also building opportunities and building the future,” says Majola. “So we’re sensitive to the employment goals of the City of Johannesburg and aligned with the City’s social objectives.”
The development of Hill on Empire on this prime site purchased over a decade ago shows that a strategic investment by Abland is good thinking. “We’ve invested in a great node with strong heritage and we are creating a property asset not only for its owners but also for the people who use it and its community,” says Majola.
Abland’s relationship-building approach to property development will also continue long after Hill on Empire is complete. Its property management company, Abreal, will continue nurturing strong relationships with excellent property management that focuses on the needs of tenants.
In addition, Hill on Empire tenants will enjoy Abreal’s Over&Above Business Benefits, with added amenities that make doing business at the precinct even more convenient, including back-up power generation, back-up water supply, dry cleaning services, windshield repairs, tyre/battery services and replacements, car wash, cellular service provider and even business and performance coaching & training.