Melville is bouncing back. That’s what Marcel Pols, a longtime resident and estate agent with Seeff has to say about the area.
Up until a few years ago, Melville was favoured by trendy crowds and students from the nearby University of Johannesburg who frequented the suburb’s stylish pavement cafés, bars, antique shops, book stores, bakeries and boutique shops. The suburb’s Bohemian flavour seemingly also appealed to property buyers who started snapping up the area’s old-world properties by the handful.
Unfortunately, unsavoury characters started targeting Melville and crime became a problem, which, coupled with the recession of 2008, led to a slump in the local property market as evidenced by Lightstone statistics which indicate a choppy, yet distinct decline in prices and sales achieved during this time.
As conditions deteriorated, many a restaurant and outlet closed including Roxy’s Rhythm Bar, a veteran establishment of the local social scene. Vehicle thefts and hijackings increased, beggars and vagrants hassled visitors, noise pollution and parking became problematic and film companies began to trickle away from studios which had been established in the area.
But times ‘they-are-a-changing’. Pols says that crime has decreased significantly in the wake of efforts made by the local ratepayers association and an increase in the presence of security company guards. The issuing of liquor licenses has also apparently been curtailed in a bid to discourage public disruptions.
These improvements, coupled with slightly more positive property market sentiment is galvanising activity in Melville with younger buyers in particular taking an interest once more in the area’s property wares. Interestingly, the majority are reportedly purchasing “bargain” properties and refurbishing them.
And buyers will no doubt have their pick of old properties to refurbish. Melville was proclaimed in 1896 by land surveyor Edward Harker Vincent Melvill after whom the area is named. In a public sale notice issued at the time, the suburb was described as a “picturesque and healthy spot in the vicinity of Johannesburg with a magnificent view of the wooded country to the north with the blue Pretoria ranges stretching like lines of steel against the horizon.”
Given its age, Melville is characterized in the main by an eclectic mix of freehold properties, many of which are semi-detached. Pols explains that owners either leave these properties “entire” or subdivide them and sell off portions. Many owners have also set up B&B’s on these properties or rent them out to tenants at prices ranging from R5000 to R13 000pm. According to Pols, the older properties of this nature sell from R950 000 to R1, 3 million while upgraded versions can change hands for as much as R2 million.
A smattering of Sectional Title properties are available in Melville. According to Pols the majority are located towards Melville’s outskirts and sell at between R300 000 and R500 000. Unsurprisingly, students and single residents comprise the bulk of those who purchase these types of properties.
Of course no review of Melville would be complete without mentioning Melville Koppies. Melville Koppies is a heritage site and is arguably best known for its archeological treasures but has also become popular with walking groups and hikers. And if hiking and fresh air aren’t your thing, there are still plenty of shops and cosmopolitan eateries in Melville to keep you busy.