The first of approximately 500 residential tenants have moved into Newgate, the latest affordable residential precinct to take root in Johannesburg’s inner city. Located between Jeppe and Bree Streets opposite the Bree Street Taxi Rank on the periphery of Newtown, Newgate originally served as an office building and also housed a retail centre which included a cinema complex.
Refurbishment of the eleven storey, 25 000m² building got underway at the beginning of 2012. The building now comprises a healthy mix of retail and residential space explains Lael Bethlehem, Head of Real Estate Investments at Standard Bank.
The residential component is divided between eight residential floors situated in the north façade of the building and six residential levels in the south façade which collectively amount to 216 bachelor and one bedroom rental units. Most of the units enjoy expansive views over the city.
Originally wholly owned by Standard Bank, the decision was taken to revitalise the building through an R80 million Joint Venture with leading inner city housing and commercial developers Afhco (the Affordable Housing Company). Standard Bank and Afhco now each own 50% of the building and are partners in the development.
Renney Plit, Chairman and COO of Afhco, says: “We are excited about the opportunity that comes with a development of this nature. There is a lot of demand for secure and reasonably priced rental housing in this market. Newgate is a prime example of where this can be successfully met. We were pleased to have partnered with Standard Bank on this development.”
Standard Bank, which maintains head offices in the Johannesburg CBD, has been a long-time champion of the CBD and its immediate surrounding areas and has been involved in a number of restoration projects in the inner city.
Bethlehem says the units are well designed and each unit boasts quality, modern fittings such as granite kitchen counter tops, fitted cookers, built in cupboards and high- end sinks, baths and taps. Every unit also comes with pre-fitted window blinds.
Each apartment is supplied by metered water, and the hot water supply is heated by economical, energy efficient heat pumps. Prepaid electricity meters have been fitted in every unit and tenants are able to plug into pre-fitted DSTV aerials, log into wireless internet, or make use of the private telephone provided in each unit.
Bethlehem says low energy ambient lights have been fitted in the apartments and common areas and light sensors have been installed in the passages which will help reduce the building’s costs. Energy efficient lifts have also been installed.
In terms of security arrangements, Bethlehem says Standard Bank and Afhco take this aspect very seriously as the success of such projects rides heavily on their ability to keep tenants safe and prevent overcrowding. In line with this, tenants will only be able to access their units via a guarded, biometric access area located on the first floor.
Newgate’s rentals are attractive, especially given the excellent location of the building. Rentals start at R1750 for the smallest unit, increasing to around R3000 for the largest unit.
“Standard Bank is seeing a lot of demand for affordably priced accommodation of this nature in the city centre. As such, we wanted to provide units which not only meet this requirement but will provide tenants with a sense of belonging and dignity,” explains Bethlehem.
Newgate also boasts 616 parking bays and a 7500m2 retail centre located on the lower levels. The Centre includes a 2200m2 Cambridge Supermarket which has been very well supported by commuters and shoppers in the area. The centre also offers medical suites, a post office and will soon feature a brand new 1700m2 gym.
“We were really thrilled to have Cambridge as a retail anchor because they are very much in tune with the emerging market which includes many of our tenants,” adds Bethlehem. Standard Bank expects the entire residential component to be fully let by April 2013.