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Balwin bets R1.6bn on new Sandton high-rise  

As part of a bigger vision to create more inclusive housing closer to prime commercial hubs.
The site that will be home to Balwin's first high-rise residential project. Image: Suren Naidoo, Moneyweb

South Africa’s largest sectional-title developer JSE-listed Balwin Properties is taking a big bet on Sandton, with a R1.6 billion 20-storey residential development on the cards for the country’s financial hub.

Balwin CEO Steve Brookes revealed details of the new venture to Moneyweb on Friday, saying the project represents the group’s first-ever high-rise development.

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“With 1 340 units, it’s a monster in terms of size.… The development, called Wedgewood Sandton, will be launched later this month [November] and is part of our bigger vision around creating more inclusive housing in the country,” he adds.

An artist’s impression of the new Wedgewood Sandton apartment development. Image: Supplied

Balwin, which is noted for developing sectional-title complexes and sprawling lifestyle estates like The Blyde in Pretoria, Polofields in Waterfall and Paardevlei in Cape Town, traditionally offers apartments in buildings between three and 10 storeys high.

Just last month, the group got President Cyril Ramaphosa to officiate at the launch of its biggest development yet – the multi-billion-rand Mooilkloof Mega City, east of Pretoria. However, Brookes did not make mention of Balwin’s high-rise ambitions at the event, nor during the release of the group’s interim results recently.

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“Our new Wedgewood Sandton will be in one of the country’s most prime nodes, just 200 metres from the Gautrain Sandton Station.… It is largely targeted at the first-time homebuyers’ market, allowing people to be able to access more affordable housing opportunities in a place like Sandton,” Brookes tells Moneyweb.

“We will see if the concept works. If successful, we have plans to roll out similar high-rise developments in other prime areas in Cape Town and Umhlanga in Durban … Like our other lifestyle developments, the Sandton project will include a range of supporting facilities like a laundromat, world-class gym, coffee shop and action football area,” he adds.

With more than 1 300 units planned, the development will be home to predominately ‘micro apartments’ of between 33m2 (studio) to 55m2 (two-bedroom). However, Brookes prefers to call the units ‘lifestyle apartments’ considering the amenities Wedgewood Sandton will offer on-site.

Listen to Suren Naidoo’s Crystal Lagoons coup interview with Balwin CEO Steve Brookes (or read the transcript here):

“There will also be penthouse units available, so this is quite an inclusive development.… The smaller apartments will all have balconies too. It is going to be a ground-breaking development for Sandton,” he says.

He notes that with SA’s interest rates being at a multi-decade low, the residential property market is buoyant, despite the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown and consumers being under pressure as a result of job losses.

Read: Exclusive: Growthpoint’s ambitious Sandton Summit plan

“The housing market is doing particularly well below the R1 million mark, where a lot of first-time owners enter the market,” says Brookes.

“Despite Covid-19, Balwin clocked up over 900 sales for its half-year. Wedgewood Sandton, which is offering entry-level apartments for R799 000, already has over 1 000 people registered pre-launch, so we are pretty confident about the project.”

Brookes says Balwin purchased the development site, located at 144 Rivonia Road between Mushroom Park and the Radisson Gautrain Hotel, from JSE-listed Fortress Reit Limited.

The group has brought in private construction company Barrows as lead contractor on the project.

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Worth noting is that Barrows is the joint-venture developer of a mixed-use development in Waterfall City together with Attacq, which includes a new Courtyard Hotel to be operated by JSE-listed City Lodge Hotel Group.

Attacq and another joint-venture partner, TriColt, are also building the first high-rise residential development at Waterfall City, which is competing with Sandton Central as a new commercial hub. Attacq and TriColt have appointed Barrows as the lead contractor on that project too.

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Another fantastic vote of confidence in the South African economy!

Very exciting times are ahead for South Africans.

Only if the ANC can stop the corruption by its criminal cadres.

It is a vote of confidence, no doubt DadApe, but not ‘another’ one — the first in a long time in Sandton. All those property companies over invested in Sandton should club together to reduce the price of the units in order to bring middle class residents to Sandton to save Sandton City which is empty since people started working from home and since financial sector companies started retrenching workers. Or alternatively, to also counter other long term urban decay risks, City of JHB and retail property companies should cooperate to guarantee low long term rates and taxes on these units to help save Sandton

Balwins builds the biggest load of rubbish and slaps a big bill on it. They destroyed Greenstone cramming these rabbit Warren’s into any mound of sand they could find. You have 3 units living above looking into your garden, living in a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment, they leak, nosy and not well built and then you must pay R1.5 million for it. It insane that anyone buys these. Literally 700 – 1000 units. Gstone is full of empty balwin units people bought and couldnt sell or rent. Theres only so many people gullible enough and willing to pay for these over priced units

and thats where it starts. Once you have bought your ‘investment property” from them, the massive levies become a monthly milking machine for them. Oh- and they keep a big pool of their own units, just to give you some decent competition when you are trying to secure a tenant to help pay for your “investment”

……. and that ladies and gentlemen is how you induce urban decay and slums. History shows that these crammed living spaces eventually become slums. It usually takes 1 or 2 generations. Welcome to hilbrow Sandton 2040.

I have to disagree with you.

The USA and Australia has a number of these developments in affluent areas where land is generally expensive (unaffordable), good infrastructure in place, schools have lots of capacity for growth etc.

The least fortunate will be able to live amongst the whose who,their kids will mix with each other and a new generation of ‘kids from poorer enviro’s’ are born into world they would have never imagined etc. Crime will decrease (even disappear entirely) and we who live in the townships will have more space to ourselves because developers do not want to build new houses in our areas.

The quality of their structures is quite something.

Wow. Some people can only be negative. Must be a awful life…
Any investment is better than no investment!

“Any investment is better than no investment!” #steinhoff #JSE last ten years down……….

PSG (@R40) 3 months ago, Sasol (R40) 6 months ago to name a few
house in ghetto R2m two years ago, now R3m. Never bought Steinhoff.
Nice and sunny in this corner.

I wish it was that simple, life isnt that clear cut, people and companies like these do what’s good for them, not everyone else. Hence the last 20 years of rapidly increasing inequality in the country. They have shown by their previously actions their interests aren’t in the greater good. People can buy what they want but I just urge them to do their homework in terms of what else they can do with their money and the type of company Balwins is

Building nice Soviet styled apartments for the sheep!

I would rather live ‘here’ than in the townships!

Do you really think people are just gonna pack up their stuff in Alex and just move on into a sandton apartment? Wow I’d love to see this PowerPoint presentation

Balwin properties are losing it slowly – getting carried away with Ramaphosa,s dream city etc – saw this movie before – were a company with a good product for sale starts to become over ambitious and screws up.

Once again, another development cramming more people but NO public transport!

Seriously? Public transport is critical but alas in SA it is just a joke

Given that the City’s municipality it falling apart with a crumbling infrastructure and gridlocked services how on earth has this development been passed? Where are the supporting social services such as schools, clinics, parks, bigger and better roads, sewage capacity and so on…

Last information I received is that the City has a very limited fleet of 5 or 6 fire trucks with little or no high rise equipment.

The City’s town planners have a lot to answer for.

End of comments.

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