Down­siz­ing se­niors go down­town

It’s a trend in the UK, now lo­cals may fol­low suit and move away from sub­ur­ban homes

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

BABY boomers, it seems, are happy to sell their big man­sions in quiet sub­ur­ban streets to move to vi­brant down­towns for their old age.

This is cre­at­ing a new mar­ket for devel­op­ers in the UK and pos­si­bly South African devel­op­ers too.

Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle in The Guardian (“The new hipsters? London’s ex­clu­sive ‘down­sizer’ homes for the over-55s”, May 31, 2017), London-based hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tion Hanover has recog­nised the po­ten­tial of this down­sizer mar­ket with Quadra, a de­vel­op­ment of one- and two-bed­roomed apart­ments in trendy Hack­ney for res­i­dents 55 and over.

Aimed at those who no longer need a large sub­ur­ban fam­ily home but have both the cap­i­tal and de­sire to re­lo­cate to a vi­brant down­town area, it’s billed as an “as­pi­ra­tion prod­uct”.

“We make no as­sump­tions about re­tire­ment at the age of 55. ‘Down­sizer’ sim­ply de­scribes what peo­ple are aim­ing to do, and they’re free­ing money held in eq­uity and prop­erty to do other things,” says Hanover’s di­rec­tor of de­vel­op­ment, Claire An­der­son.

The down­town op­tion for the more se­nior cit­i­zen is not new to South Africa. It dis­ap­peared as down­towns changed, says Clive Man­tle, MD of Se­nior Ex­po­sure, an in­ter­net com­pany with sites for se­niors, in­clud­ing­niorser­, a di­rec­tory of re­tire­ment fa­cil­i­ties in South Africa.

“In the 1980s, in down­town Jo­han­nes­burg and Hill­brow, many apart­ments were oc­cu­pied by se­niors. These dis­ap­peared as the char­ac­ter of the neigh­bour­hoods changed and to­day there are no se­niors’ de­vel­op­ments in these ar­eas or neigh­bour­ing Braam­fontein.

“There’s been move­ment to­wards this in Dur­ban, where res­i­den­tial apart­ment com­plexes have been con­verted to se­niors’ de­vel­op­ments.”

To be wel­com­ing to se­niors, says Man­tle, a down­town must have: Se­cu­rity. Con­ve­nient ac­cess to pub­lic trans­port.

Prox­im­ity to gar­dens and ameni­ties.

Med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties. The Cape Town CBD is al­ready ahead of the curve, be­lieves Rob Kane, chair­per­son of the Cape Town Cen­tral City Im­prove­ment Dis­trict.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen sev­eral mixed ho­tel/ res­i­den­tial com­plexes de­vel­oped in the CBD, and we’re hear­ing from es­tate agents that many of these apart­ments are bought by over-50s own­ers/oc­cu­piers.

“They are com­ing for the life­style op­tions now avail­able in the CBD across venues such as restau­rants, art gal­leries, mu­se­ums, the Com­pany’s Gar­den and events such as First Thurs­days and Open Streets.

“Since the 2010 World Cup, we’ve also seen the rise of a first-class pub­lic trans­porta­tion sys­tem in and around the CBD with the MyCiTi net­work. Plus, we’ve had the open­ing last year of the Net­care Chris­ti­aan Barnard Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal and the in­creas­ing num­bers of med- ical pro­fes­sion­als this is at­tract­ing to the cen­tral City.”

The work of the CCID, says Kane, has made the cen­tral City – as recog­nised by SAPS – the safest CBD in the coun­try. “You there­fore have all the ba­sics se­niors are look­ing for.”

Agents who have sold in the CBD’s most re­cent res­i­den­tial/ho­tel com­plex, the Radis­son Blu Ho­tel and Res­i­dence, con­cur, notes En­ver Dee­dat of its de­vel­oper, Sig­natura.

“Many own­ers of 50+ years have bought in the com­plex, in­clud­ing a few who sold homes in Clare­mont, New­lands and Wyn­berg for a small home where se­cu­rity is es­sen­tial.”

Sig­natura MD David Co­hen says one cou­ple lived in Fres­naye but “sold their house to move to Grey­ton and use the Radis­son as their city pad”.

The dif­fer­ence, says Man­tle, be­tween se­niors want­ing to live down­town in the past and to­day is to­day’s se­niors en­thu­si­asm for re­tirees’ de­vel­op­ments.

“Se­cu­rity and run­ning costs are a ma­jor fac­tor but an­other at­trac­tion is a well-crafted life­style.”

Con­cerns for ex­plor­ing and ex­pand­ing the con­cept for over- 55ers in a vi­brant down­town? Man­tle says: “My con­cern would be the high cost of land in the CBD, which is push­ing devel­op­ers to seek land away from the city. But, un­like Joburg or Pre­to­ria, se­niors in Cape Town would not be averse to liv­ing in medium- to high-den­sity de­vel­op­ments. Oa­sis in Cen­tury City has shown multi-storey com­plexes can work for se­niors.”


Cape Town’s CBD is one of the safest neigh­bour­hoods for se­nior cit­i­zens.


Cape Town’s city cen­tre has top eater­ies.


Chris­ti­aan Barnard Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal.


Ev­ery­thing is within strolling dis­tance.

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