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
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.”