Vil­lage at­mos­phere a ma­jor fac­tor

Wood­stock’s Up­per East­side de­vel­op­ment has fared well de­spite the re­ces­sion, writes Michelle Swart

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

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

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