In Johannesburg there are suburbs that tend to blur into each other, where you leave one set of anonymous townhouses only to be greeted by another set as you enter the next suburb. Most of the time the only reason that you know you have left one suburb and entered another is the sign on the side of the road and a subtle switch in the road layout and naming conventions. Then again there are suburbs that have a distinct identity all to themselves. Some of these suburbs have retained their identity over the years, while others have evolved as the demographics of the city have shifted over the years. One need only to look at how Yeoville has morphed from a distinctly Jewish community to a hotbed of African culture to see how the city has changed.One suburb that has seen the effects of this shift in demographics in recent years is Cyrildene. Situated east of Linksfield Ridge and Observatory and north of Bruma Lake, the suburb has become a focal point for the Chinese community over the past 10 years.In the past if you had asked your average semi-informed Jo’burger about Cyrildene they might have been able to tell you where it was, but nowadays they would probably know that Cyrildene, and more specifically Derrick Avenue in Cyrildene is the new ‘Chinatown’ in Jo’burg.This transformation happened over time as traders and restaurants from Commissioner Street in the CBD found a new home in Cyrildene. The transformation has been so complete that many of the shop signs are only in Mandarin, indicting the strength of the community in the suburb.In some cases the establishment of a strong national enclave in a specific area is marked by a drop in property values, but this has not been the case in Cyrildene, an indication of the strength of China as a global superpower.Freehold properties dominate the market in Cyrildene with less than 15% of the stock in the market composed of sectional title and those sectional title units having seen nowhere near the growth that the freehold market has seen with the average price having hovered around the R450 000 mark for the past few years.Freehold properties, on the other hand, have seen prices more than triple since 2004, with 2010 having seen a massive jump in average selling prices from R1.3 million in 2009 to R1.7 million in 2010. This marked increase is more likely a re-establishment of an existing growth trend as prices, as well as the number of sales dropped in 2009 as the market suffered the effects of the global economic slowdown.The suburb tends to match the patterns of other areas of the city with older residents moving out and younger and middle-aged buyers moving in. The suburb does, however have a strong core of stable owners with more than 40% having owned their properties for 11 years or more.Other than the obvious attraction of Derrick Avenue, Cyrildene is also well situated with Bruma Lake literally across the road from some parts of the suburb and the ever-expanding Eastgate Shopping Centre within easy reach.Access to the highway and OR Tambo International Airport are also relatively easy with the R24 Highway petering out just on the other side of Bruma Lake. Other facilities within easy reach include Linksfield Clinic as well as a wide variety of schools including Athlone Girls High and Queens High School. The area also has a wealth of top private schools within easy reach including St Andrews Girls and St Benedict’s in Bedfordview, King David School in Linksfield and Sacred Heart College in Observatory.
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