Village atmosphere a major factor
Woodstock’s Upper Eastside development has fared well despite the recession, writes Michelle Swart
WOODSTOCK, one of Cape Town’s oldest suburbs, is in the City Bowl area and within easy access of the central business district. It was this suburb’s charming architecture and sense of history that drove the demand for it to become a city improvement district (CID).
Set on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, with views over the harbour, Woodstock’s improvement is slowly taking shape and its village atmosphere is attracting young professionals. Companies have been encouraged to set up shop in Woodstock as a part of its strategy to boost the commercial and residential property markets.
Set in the heart of this vibrant area is The Upper Eastside, a prime mixed-use development that includes residential, commercial and retail components, as well as the areas first luxury hotel.
This joint venture between Swish Property Group and Redefine Property Holdings is located in the old factory district of Woodstock. It is made up of modern apartment units, a world-class hotel, conferencing facilities, restaurants, coffee shops, an art gallery, a gym, and various retail outlets.
The development was designed by architect Greg Viljoen of Design-360, who also undertook the interior design of the Upper Eastside Hotel.
He says that phase one of this development was based around the existing shell of a textile factory, as the building had a solid layout and architecture that worked well for this project.
In fact the building had received the Cape Provincial Institute of Architects Bronze Medal for an outstanding building of 1967. As an iconic building in the area the factory was designed to be robust, both in structure and materials. The unpainted concrete and brick finish was an essential characteristic of the design.
In transforming this factory space into apartments Viljoen says that most of the big industrial features have remained, such as the exposed concrete work and the high ceilings, which add to the feeling of space.
Viljoen says that the success of the factory design owes much to its rational plan form.
“This not only created a highly efficient building, but also allowed for further expansion by way of an additional block on the south side of the site.”
The Upper Eastside consists of three distinct towers with the central piazza holding it all together in a mulitfunctional and dimensional space.
Viljoen says that the use of space was an important part of the brief as was keeping some of the old, historical elements of the original factory building.
This, he says, has resulted in a development that has retained the historical elements of the industrial envelope. It just has a fresher appearance and has been enhanced by a chic interior.
He says that the deliberate use of hard finishes such as glass, concrete and steel created a strong contrast with the plush interior spaces, which he describes as shabby chic with an edgy, fresh, vintage feel,
The challenges for Viljoen centred around everything being ready for the Soccer World Cup last year. The hotel, despite a lastminute change in operator, was up and running by June, with most of the other areas completed at the end of last year.
Giancarlo Lanfranchi, CEO of Swish Properties, says that another challenge was delivering a green-based building.
“No undertaking such as this comes without its teething problems, says Lanfranchi.
“We had to make do with the green technology that was available, which is working perfectly.”
The 183-room hotel, which has a high occupancy rate, and 87 of the apartments all have hot water generated through a waste-energy heat exchange system.
The office spaces use LED lighting that is linked to solar pan- els that use daylight energy. There is a battery back-up system in place for the three to four evening hours when the sun no longer provides the energy.
Launching a new development in a depressed market can be risky, but Lanfranchi says that there are only seven bachelor apartments and nine work/live lofts still available for purchase.
He says that between two and three apartments are selling each month.
Lanfranchi says that while the Woodstock CID still needs to mature, many of the buyers are from nearby neighbourhoods who are looking for solid buy-to-let property investments.
“Apartments at the Upper Eastside are currently providing investors with a 6% to 9% rental yield,” says Lanfranchi.
When asked about the success of the development, Lanfranchi says that people have invested even in an area challenged by rejuvenation during a time when they are also challenged financially.
That says it all.
from Bachelors R615 000 One-bedroom apartments from R915 000 Work/live lofts from R900 000 Contact: Swish Properties Giancarlo Lanfranchi 082 882 8995