Few op­por­tu­ni­ties left at iconic lux­ury Irene es­tate

Hav­ing raised the bar in es­tate liv­ing, South­downs Es­tate’s fi­nal phase is set to seal its trend-set­ter sta­tus, writes Michelle Funke

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SIT­U­ATED in Irene, Cen­tu­rion, South­downs Es­tate oc­cu­pies land which orig­i­nally formed part of the neigh­bour­ing 117-yearold 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 cows now roam the es­tate. And therein lies the ap­peal ex­plains Jack Pren­tice, MD of South­downs Man­age­ment Ser­vices.

“Ar­guably one of the pri­mary rea­sons South­downs orig­i­nally stood out … is be­cause it of­fered a unique, farm-like life­style. Res­i­dents can ac­cess the dairy, set amid orig­i­nal farm build­ings and beau­ti­ful old oak trees, which now boasts a farm shop and eater­ies.”

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 out­set. Th­ese ele­ments are still be­ing suc­cess­fully car­ried through to new projects at the es­tate to­day.

Ap­prox­i­mately 380 free­hold plots were re­leased in the first phase — of­fi­cially launched in 2005. Ac­cord­ing to Pren­tice, it 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 980m² and 3,000m², were orig­i­nally sold at be­tween R600,000 and R2m. Pren­tice says that to­day the aver­age South­downs free­hold stand sells for about R1.8m and com­pleted houses sell for about R4m. The high­est price achieved to date is R8.5m.

Ap­prox­i­mately 50 sec­tion­alti­tle townhouses called The Lofts were also launched in the first phase. Th­ese mea­sure be­tween 126m² and 280m² and typ­i­cally fea­ture two bed­rooms, two bath- rooms, a gas braai and un­der-floor heat­ing. High-end fin­ishes come stan­dard and some units of­fer pools. Cur­rent loft prices start at R1.7m. Pren­tice ex­plains that th­ese units have proven par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar with buy-to-let in­vestors who lease them at be­tween R9,000 and R17,000 per month.

In Oc­to­ber 2011, South­downs launched its fi­nal phase which is be­ing rolled out in sev­eral sub­phases. The first sub-phase com­prised 73 free­hold stands which have now sold out. Pren­tice says that 21 of th­ese stands, which mea­sure be­tween 800m² and 1,500m² are al­ready be­ing de­vel­oped with con­struc­tion of 12 more set to be­gin soon.

The sec­ond sub-phase was launched in Jan­uary, with 37 free­hold stands mea­sur­ing be­tween 750m² and 1,500m² at prices start­ing from R1.25m.

Th­ese stands have now been pro­claimed and only 10 re­main avail­able for sale.

Seven lux­ury clus­ters named The Pad­docks are due to be re­leased next month as part of an­other sub-phase roll out. Pad­docks res­i­dences will mea­sure be­tween 260m² and 400m² and oc­cupy stands mea­sur­ing be­tween 1,000m² and 2,200m². Th­ese clus­ters will en­joy views of South- downs’ pas­tures and high-end fin­ishes and will be priced be­tween R3.5 and R5m.

Plans to de­velop about 160 ad­di­tional clus­ter homes dur­ing the course of next year and 2015 are in the pipe­line. On com­ple­tion, Pren­tice ex­plains that South­downs will fea­ture around 720 res­i­dences in to­tal.

In ad­di­tion to the dairy farm, South­downs of­fers var­i­ous other con­ve­nient ameni­ties in­clud­ing 13kms of walk­ing/hik­ing/cycling trails that 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-ofthe-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 preschool or South­downs Col­lege which of­fers com­pre­hen­sive aca­demic, sports and board­ing fa­cil­i­ties. South­downs Col­lege has proven highly pop­u­lar since in­cep­tion and ap­prox­i­mately 1,350 stu­dents at­tend the col­lege.

A fully equipped theatre which dou­bles as a con­fer­ence and events space has also been es­tab- lished 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 ful­lye­quipped 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 mil­i­tary­grade 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, more than 6,000 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 in South African life­style es­tates, says Pren­tice. Dis­creetly lo­cated op­po­site the ed­u­ca­tional node within the es­tate’s bound­aries, the barn-style units mea­sure be­tween 20m² and 65m² and can only be pur­chased by ex­ist­ing own­ers. Al­ready 80% of th­ese units have 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 last year which is an ac­co­lade we fully in­tend to build on as we roll out the last phases of the es­tate.”

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