Demand for office space kickstarts construction around OR Tambo Airport

As development on the OR Tambo Aerotropolis kicks into gear, demand for office space in and around the precinct is surging, stimulating construction in the area.

Soaring demand: Space for AAA-grade office space in and around the OR Tambo Aerotropolis has kick-started construction projects in the area, such as this expansion – the first of a R600 million expansion of the Clearwater Office Park along Atlas Road by developers Krisp Properties.

One of the major construction projects kick-started by the surge in interest is the R600 million expansion of the AAA-grade Clearwater Office Park along Atlas Road.

Property analysts say breaking ground on projects within the aerotropolis eastern precinct, along Atlas Road, is on track to happen by the second half of next year.

According to Craig Henry, principal of commercial property brokerage Planat Properties, demand for land in and around the aerotropolis has surged ahead of the ground-breaking next year.

“This area is seen as the new CBD of the East Rand. There’s a huge demand for industrial properties in this area, given its proximity to the airport, as well as to the R21 and N12,” said Henry.

One of the developers enjoying the uptick in demand for prime office space in the area is Krisp Properties, which due to the influx of blue chip companies to the area has started on the first phase of the expansion of its Clearwater Office Park, which already consists of 19 000m² of office space and is 95 percent let.

Krisp Properties is adding a further 44 000m² of prime office space to Clearwater Office Park, due to the increasing demand. The first phase, which broke ground in June, will add a further 14 000m² of office space, with the first AAA-grade offices set to open in mid-2016.

Last year Pepsi – through its South African company Simba – as well as Michelin Africa moved their headquarters to the plush office park. They joined Discovery Health, DHL Aviation, Barloworld, Old Mutual, ABSA Bank and Imperial Air Cargo.

“We have found a massive interest in high-end office space close to the airport as well as the aerotropolis precinct,” said Krisp Properties executive director Jordan Mann.

Krisp is leading the charge in developing “a new business node” along Atlas Road. There is immense national and international interest in the precinct and what is taking place here,” he said.

The new development will include six buildings, designed to look inwards onto a piazza, ranging from two to three storeys in height, Mann said. All six are due to be completed in mid-2018.

Construction on the first 3 300m² office block kicked off in June and is due for completion in mid-2016.

Town planner Jon Busser of Urban Dynamics, which is involved in the project, said: “Atlas Road is experiencing increased demand for business uses and is attracting private investment. The Ekurhuleni Northern Spatial Development Framework states that the agglomeration of mixed business on both sides of Atlas Road is evidence that a natural activity spine is already forming along this route.”

While many developers cut back amid a tight economy, Krisp is investing more than R600m in expanding Clearwater Office Park, to complement the OR Tambo Aerotropolis.

“Clearwater Office Park has already attracted major SA and international companies,” said Mann. “The location enables us to position ourselves as a conduit for – and complement to – business in the aerotropolis development.”

Architect Francois Marais of Francois Marais Architects said the tailored design and construction of the buildings embrace new energy efficiency legislation, rather than being restricted by it.

“The buildings are designed as ‘green buildings’, fully compliant with the Energy Efficiency Act. From the outset the design uses overhangs over all the windows and doors to minimise the impact of the sun internally and to reduce the escape of heat from the building,” Marais said.

Mann said the office park is built as a holistic development, offering facilities such as tennis and squash courts, a gym, a day spa and a restaurant and conference facility, all of which are available to the commercial tenants.

A boutique hotel is also planned for the estate, he said.

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