Situated in Irene, Centurion, Southdowns Estate occupies land which originally formed part of the neighbouring 117 year old Irene Dairy Farm. Far from being a peripheral element however, pockets of the dairy’s land were incorporated into Southdowns, the upshot of which is that dairy cows now roam the estate. And therein lies the appeal explains Jack Prentice, MD of Southdowns Management Services (SMS).
“Arguably one of the primary reasons Southdowns originally stood out from other developments is because it offered a unique, farm-like lifestyle. Residents can also directly access the dairy which now boasts an appealing farm shop and eateries set amidst the original farm buildings and beautiful old oak trees.”
The architectural style employed also appealed greatly to Southdowns’ first buyers explains Prentice. Red and grey chromadek roofs, earth tones, rectangular forms, stone walls and farm-style elements were incorporated into the estate’s “palette” from the beginning. These elements are still being successfully carried through to new projects at the estate today.
Approximately 380 freehold plots were released via Southdowns’ first phase which was officially launched in 2005. According to Prentice the first phase met with considerable success with the majority of the plots being sold within weeks of being made available to the market.
The first freehold plots (which measured between 980 and 3000sqm’s) were originally sold at between R600 000 and R2m. According to Prentice, the average Southdowns freehold stand now sells for approximately R1.8m and completed houses sell for around R4m. The highest price achieved to date for a Southdowns freehold home is R8.5m.
Approximately 50 sectional title townhouses called ‘The Lofts’ were also launched in the first phase. These measure between 126sqm’s and 280sqm’s and typically feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gas braai and under-floor heating. High end finishes come standard and some units offer pools. Current Lofts prices start at R1.7m. Prentice explains that these units have proven particularly popular with buy-to-let investors who lease them out at between R9 000 and R17 000pm.
In October 2011, Southdowns launched its final phase which is being rolled out in several ‘sub’ phases. The first sub phase comprised 73 freehold stands which have now sold out. According to Prentice, 21 of these stands which measure between 800 and 1,500sqm’s are already being developed with construction of 12 more set to begin soon.
The second sub phase was launched in January 2013. Under this banner, 37 freehold stands measuring between 750 and 1,500sqm’s were brought to market at prices starting from R1.25m. These stands have now been proclaimed and only ten remain available for sale.
Seven luxury clusters named ‘The Paddocks’ are due to be released in July 2013 as part of another sub phase rollout. Paddocks residences will measure between 260 and 400sqm’s and occupy stands measuring between 1000 and 2200sqm’s. These clusters will enjoy views of Southdowns’ pastures and will feature high-end finishes. Paddocks clusters will be priced at between R3.5 and R5m.
Plans to develop approximately 160 additional cluster homes during the course of 2014 and 2015 are in the pipeline. Upon completion, Prentice explains that Southdowns will feature around 720 residences in total.
In addition to the dairy farm, Southdowns offers a number of other convenient amenities including 13km’s of walking/hiking/cycling trails which bisect the estate, play parks and a fitness centre. Residents can also make use of the adjoining Irene Country Club, Irene Lodge and ‘Camdeboo Spa’. A Gautrain bus stop, the Southdowns office park and shopping centre (which features a state-of-the-art medical centre) all lie within walking distance of the estate.
Southdowns also boasts a private, external educational node where budding students can attend a pre-school or Southdowns College which offers comprehensive academic, sports and boarding facilities. Southdowns College has proven highly popular since inception. Approximately 1350 students currently attend the college.
A fully equipped theatre which doubles as a conference and events space has also been established at the educational node along with the Open Window School of Visual Communication which offers high-tech production studios, a research centre, creative labs, spacious lecture halls, a fully-equipped gym and cafeteria.
Other Southdowns ‘value-adds’ include a one-of-a-kind natural gas pipeline which has proven a major boon in the wake of escalating electricity costs, a fibre-optic backbone and top notch security protocols backed by military grade security cameras.
Where possible, Southdowns also tries to adopt environmentally friendly practices says Prentice. “Pockets of land have been left deliberately untouched to preserve the local fauna and flora. In a bid to further facilitate the estate’s ‘green’ credentials, over 6000 indigenous trees have also been planted and a recycling service has been established,” he explains.
Further enhancing Southdowns’ offering is the recent introduction of 39 sectional title storage units, another “first” amongst South African lifestyle estates says Prentice. Discreetly located opposite the educational node within the estate’s boundaries, the barn-style units measure between 20 and 65sqm’s and can only be purchased by existing owners. According to Prentice, 80% of the units have already been sold off-plan.
“Suffice to say the estate offers a lifestyle which is hard to beat. Southdowns is one of the few mixed-use lifestyle estates which has proved viable since inception and has achieved significant returns on investment. Indeed, the estate was named the best performing luxury estate in Pretoria by the Financial Mail in October 2012 which is an accolade we fully intend to build on as we roll out the last phases of the estate.”