E-tolls Force Developers To Change Their Game Plan

Private Property South Africa

The introduction of e-tolls to major national roads in Gauteng has forced property developers to re-think their game plan. Given the huge resistance to e-tolls, developers are predicting that traffic volumes on alternative routes will vastly increase once e-tolls are introduced - making land along the new popular routes a valuable asset.

This has seen Johannesburg-based property developers NuWay Housing and Krisp Properties - both of which fall under the NuHold Group - forging ahead with plans for a retail and residential development between Pretoria and Johannesburg, in Olievenhoutbos.

The development site is alongside the R55 - a major alternative route for motorists wanting to avoid paying the soon-to-be-implemented e-toll system on Johannesburg's freeways.

Krisp Properties executive director, Jordan Mann said the company had received the go-ahead from municipal authorities for the residential and retail development on 12 hectares of land, called Olievenhoutbos Ext 47.

The residential component, built by NuWay, would consist of 114 stands of about 200m2 each, as well as space for an "institutional stand" which could comprise of a church or community centre, said Mann.

Krisp Properties would be responsible for the development of a 9,000m² "neighbourhood shopping centre" called Olive Wood.

"The R55 is going to become even busier, thanks to people wanting to avoid the toll roads, and for this reason the development alongside the route makes a perfect business case," said Mann, adding that he planned for work to start on the complex in 2014.

"Because the area is a transport hub, we will also be formalising an informal taxi rank which is at the site."

Mann said the Olive Wood Shopping Centre would boast take away restaurants, banks and ATMs, a major national food anchor, a national hardware store chain, a clinic, post office, satellite police station, and a national clothing store, among others.

Architect on the project, Alan Dixon, of Archland Design Studios, said: "With the proposed new tolling systems on national routes in Gauteng, the traffic volumes on alternative routes such as the R55 will substantially increase, placing the site on a potential prominent route between the northern part of Johannesburg and Pretoria."

Town planner on the project, Jon Busser of Urban Dynamics, said: "This site was originally planned in the epicentre of Olievenhoutbos. It therefore represents the only central, local retail node for Olievenhoutbos. With continued residential growth in the area, market potential has now reached a point where investment in such a mixed use node can be sustained.

"It is strategically located to intercept passing traffic and thereby also service the greater R55 growth corridor between Blue Hills and the N14 highway."

Busser said that as part of the modern development's focus as a "Neighbourhood Centre", it would include a food anchor and a range of convenience retail stores, "as well as an inter-modal transport facility and taxi rank, central park land and residential infill development".

Mann said Krisp Properties had successfully developed Midrand shopping centre, Ebony Park, and was in the midst of starting work on a 5,000m² pedestrianized shopping centre alongside Cape Town's busy Langa train station, called Langa Junction.

NuWay, meanwhile, is in the advanced planning stages of developing a R6-billion "city within a city" holistic lifestyle and low cost housing estate, constructed over 15 years, on the outskirts of Nelson Mandela Bay on a 3,200 hectare site. The plans include provision for clinics, hospitals and shopping centres.

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