The rise of Rosebank

Today Rosebank is synonymous with office buildings, hotels, shopping centres and apartment blocks, so it’s hard to believe it started out as farm land. This is according to Chris Renecle, MD of Renprop, who says that Rosebank originally formed part of the Rosemill Orchards farm, which was owned by a Mr Lorenco in the 1800s.
The first plots in the area were auctioned off by Richard Currie in 1896 and by 1919 the city council had renamed the streets after World War I British Admirals. Construction in the area began in earnest during the late 1940s and by the 1950s, Rosebank was considered to be one of the leading retail nodes of Johannesburg. The area had increased in size and hotels, shopping centres, schools, homes and other commercial buildings were developed.
It was Rosebank’s location close to both the Johannesburg CBD and Sandton that added to appeal. “With the decentralisation of the Johannesburg inner city, Rosebank gained popularity among corporates, however it has always been a secondary node and never took off the way Sandton and Randburg did in the early days,” says Renecle.
Predominantly a commercial node, Rosebank mostly comprises offices and retail space, with a limited number of residential flats, mostly with art deco architecture. “Most of these residential buildings have not been very well maintained,” says Renecle, who notes that Rosebank experienced decline and deterioration until the Rosebank Management District was established in 1988.
The Rosebank Management District was initially a voluntary safe and clean initiative, and by October 2000, the Rosebank Management District had become the first improvement district to be legislated in Gauteng.
The initial focus of the Rosebank Management District was to create a clean and safe environment for visitors, shoppers, business and residents.
“The Rosebank Management District uplifted the area considerably and development and upgrades of buildings followed suit, with the Zone shopping centre, the redevelopment of The Firs and the extension of the Rosebank Mall being the most recent. However, during this time, the residential component of Rosebank was overlooked or ignored,” says Renecle.
The development of the Gautrain station has also had a noticeable impact on the areas.
“Rosebank has seen much commercial development and investment since the Gautrain station was built a couple of years ago, and as such, has been declared as one of the 35 priority areas in greater Johannesburg with a focus to be placed on improving service delivery and infrastructure,” says Renecle.
“In the past three years, close to R7-billion has been spent on the development of new office buildings and the refurbishment of older commercial buildings in the area including the extension and upgrade of The Mall of Rosebank and the new Standard Bank offices which accommodate 5 000 employees, among others. The commercial node is likely to strengthen further in the next three to five years following the development of a pipeline of up to 100 000m2 of office space which is mooted in a number of proposed developments in Rosebank,” he says.
Renecle explains that this is where Renprop saw the gap in the market to launch The Vantage - a 10-storey apartment development will be home to around 165 executive apartments. “There has been such pent-up demand from people working the area who want to live there too, as well as from investors - many of whom live in The Parks areas and other older suburbs south of northern Johannesburg - who want to invest in residential space in Rosebank.”
The Vantage was fully subscribed at the launch function, and of the units that didn’t sell, there are currently only eight left. “There is still much pent up demand for residential apartments in Rosebank based on the number of enquiries we have received over the past year,” says Renecle.
From a commercial perspective, development in Rosebank is still continuing, with a new building for Fluxmans and a new large office development currently underway. The redevelopment of The Galleria is planned, which is an Investec initiative. “Property owners are confident these new buildings will be filled,” says Renecle, who notes that there is a need for sectional title office space in Rosebank to cater to the small and medium enterprises. “Currently the available office space in the area is rental units, or companies who own whole buildings.”
“With the continued commercial development in the Rosebank area, I anticipate demand for in excess of 1000 apartments within the node in the foreseeable future.”
Renecle says these apartments will be created from the redevelopment of some of the older blocks of flats in the area as well as some B- and C-grade office buildings.
In March 2015, Renprop will be launching a new 14-storey apartment building, The Tyrwhitt, which will accommodate approximately 200 apartments. “We have identified the need for slightly larger units in the area,” says Renecle, “and so apartments at The Tyrwhitt will range from approximately 70m2 to more than 100m2 and will include some larger penthouses.”
Designed by GLH Architects, the same architecture firm that designed the new Standard Bank building in Rosebank, The Tyrwhitt will differ from The Vantage architecturally and will incorporate clean lines and a modern art deco feel, in keeping with the Rosebank look.
The Tyrwhitt will offer buyers a mixture of configurations, from one-bedroom, one-bathroom units to three-bedroom, three-bathroom penthouses. Prices will start in the R2million range and reach close on around R10million for the bigger penthouses.
“Renprop is excited for the launch of this development in the New Year, and expects that more of the purchasers in this apartment block will be buying for their own use,” says Renecle. “We expect buyers to predominantly be executives who work in the area, commuter executives and those who only live in South Africa for a couple of months a year.”
Renecle concludes by saying that Renprop has a further two apartment building developments in the early planning stages for Rosebank, which he anticipates will launch towards the end of next year.

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