A city takes off

Private Property South Africa
Martin Hatchuel

There’s something quaint about ACSA’s George Airport; something nostalgic about the baggage collection area that separates the apron with its waiting planes from the public reception area on the other side of the security doors – with no steps to climb or travellator to ride as you pass from one to the other. And although the building was upgraded for the World Cup in 2010 (so it’s wonderfully slick and modern) – you can’t help but feel that this is definitely how things used to be done in the good old days. You know – when flying was fun.

It’s much the same with the city itself.

George has grown rapidly (from about 63 000 people at the turn of the millennium, to nearly 200 000 in 2011) but it retains the feeling of a country town – possibly because you can see the Outeniqua Mountains from almost anywhere, so you’re always in touch with nature.

Eden Region opportunities

As the capital of the Eden Region – most of us know it as the Garden Route and Klein Karoo – it’s the financial hub of the southern Cape Coast, and it’s leading the way in terms of attracting new industries like business process outsourcing, contact centres, ICT, and so on, and in offering incentives for investment (see ‘An opportunity for investors’ in the George Herald of 19 December, 2013).

And with them – opportunities for homeowners.

“It’s a buyer’s market at the moment,” said Remax Outeniqua property consultant Desire Fouche (who currently has 95 properties listed with privateproperty.co.za). “The prices that people are advertising seem to be creeping up even in areas like Denneoord – which is traditionally where first-time buyers look for bargains – although it seems that the actual prices the properties are selling for remain much as they have been for the last while.

“But this does point towards a new confidence in the market.”

Buyers flocking in

She said that George is currently experiencing an influx of buyers from other parts of the country, “although they’re being cautious, and researching the market carefully before they commit to moving here.

“But it’s a great place to live: with the growth of the Saasveld Campus of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and with excellent private schools like Glenwood House, George is attracting more and more young people, and more and more families with children.”

And with easy access (it’s about half way between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth – and it has that awesome little airport too, of course), and cutting-edge healthcare (the Mediclinic George private hospital boasts a comprehensive menu of services for every age group), it’s a popular retirement destination, too.

Spotlight on developments

Fouche said that the city is expanding eastwards towards new developments like Kraaibosch and Blue Mountain Village (a mixed-use precinct where residents live, work, and play) – “And that’s definitely where the spotlight is shining at the moment.”

According to the Municipality’s Economic Development Strategy (published mid-2012), the city’s economy grew at a total rate of 4.06% over the period 2000 to 2011, and that, following the worldwide recovery, it posted a growth of 3.68% in 2011 to outpace both national (2.97%) and provincial (3.35%) figures – a recovery that continued through 2012 and 2013, and which the Western Cape government predicts will continue at more than 5% per annum over the next few years.

With future growth expected to focus on call centres, ICT, berry-, timber-, vegetable- and hops-production, dairy production and processing, education, the construction industry, small-scale niche manufacturing (including aircraft manufacture), and tourism (the Garden Route hosts about 320 000 overseas visitors and 1.2 million South African tourists every year) – the City of George is, indeed, poised for takeoff.

Please fasten your seatbelts, and make sure your seat is in the upright position ...

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