It’s no secret that South Africa’s property market is taking strain. Lifestyle estates are also feeling the pinch proving they are not immune to prevailing conditions. Indeed, a number have failed altogether while others are holding on by a thread. Not so Southdowns Estate in Irene, Centurion which is proving the exception to the norm.
Officially launched at the end of 2004, Southdowns Estate has gone from strength to strength since its inception and is on the brink of launching its second and final phase. Akin to most contemporary lifestyle estates, Southdowns Estate is a mixed-use development incorporating a number of amenities and nodes one of which is the Irene Dairy Farm. Southdowns’ very roots are grounded in the soil of the farm. Originally owned by Hugo Nellmapius, the farm was bought at auction by Johannes Albertus van der Byl in 1896. Over the years the farm played host to a piggery and beef herd and later specialised in dairy farming.
Modern times proved both a blessing and a curse for the farm in that whilst urban sprawl enabled sustainability and increased access to the farm, mass dairy farming utilised by competitors threatened its viability. In a bid to save the farm, a property deal was brokered between the farm and development company Centurus Properties.
Through the deal, 200 hectares of farmland was allocated for estate development. This portion was divided into 700 land parcels measuring between 980 and 3000sqm’s each with the average plot measuring approximately 1,250sqm’s. An additional 50 hectares of farmland was incorporated into the residential node, pockets of which have been left untouched. Approximately 110 hectares were set aside for the resident Friesland herd and core farm and the majority of the beautiful Hungarian and Cape Dutch style farm buildings were preserved along with many of the original old oak trees and small dams.
The deal paid off. The farm now has its own restaurant aptly named ‘The Barn’, a charming tea garden and farm shop. All milk produced by the herd is sold at the store which has proved highly popular with locals and residents alike. The estate itself also met with great success. According to Jack Prentice, Director of the estate, 380 stands were officially made available under the banner of the first phase with prices ranging from R600 000 to R2m. These have now all been sold with re-sale prices exceeding R1000 per sqm. The highest price achieved for a developed plot currently stands at R8, 2m. Under the second and last phase of development 120 stands will be sold with prices starting at R1m. Freehold and sectional title options are available under both phases.
In terms of architectural style, Southdowns properties follow elegant, contemporary, farm style lines. Emphasis has been placed on natural materials; red and grey roofs dominate as do earth tones, broken rooflines and rectangular building forms.
In addition to the dairy farm, Southdowns Estate has its own college and the Open Window School of Visual Communication has also taken up residence at the estate’s educational node. Southdowns also operates off a fibre-optic network; state-of-the-art security protocols come standard and the estate even has its very own natural gas pipeline.
Activities-wise, residents can play a round of golf, squash or tennis at the neighbouring Irene Country Club. Other facilities include 13km’s of internal walking, hiking and cycling trails, a gym, Olympic sized pool and cricket pitch. Residents can also make use of the adjacent Southdowns Shopping Centre and Irene Country Lodge.
In a nutshell, it would appear that Southdowns is well on its way to achieving its goal of becoming Gauteng’s premier residential estate and is proof that true upmarket living never goes out of style.