Clarens - business and home owners see potential

A popular tourist town and weekend getaway destination, Clarens in the Free State is seeing an upturn in enquiries for residential property, while most weekends the town is abuzz with domestic visitors from Gauteng, says Anne Maree, Pam Golding Properties’ area principal.

“The restaurants are busy every weekend and the Protea Hotel, which conducts extensive marketing, is full on weekends and achieves reasonably high occupancy even during weekdays. Many of the more established and popular guesthouses have forward bookings, and annual bookings for holiday seasons such as Christmas and Easter,” she says. Due to its proximity to major cities, namely Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Durban, Clarens appeals to those wanting to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life for weekends or longer leisure breaks.

Adds Maree: “We are also finding that more and more corporates are booking accommodation in Clarens while attending team building adventures available in the vicinity. Among others, these activities include water rafting, horse riding, abseiling, hiking, zip line and tours into Lesotho – with Afri Ski resort a major draw card.

With a population today of about 900, Clarens was founded in 1912, growing from two farms which were subdivided to create the town site which for many years was the service centre for the surrounding farms. It subsequently developed as a small retirement town for farmers in the area, with tourism and second home purchases commencing in about 1985. This was followed by an influx of Pretoria and Johannesburg investors who were business people and saw the potential of the area for future tourism development.

Says Maree: “In the early 1990’s residential investments began when Clarens became the base for local and international construction workers and engineers for the Lesotho Highlands water scheme, with a tunnel built from the Katse Dam in Lesotho to the Ass River just outside Clarens. This resulted in 63 new housing units being built, boosting population growth as well and infrastructure and improvements in the area. Following completion of the Lesotho Highlands project many international workers left the area, and so Clarens began to evolve as a unique leisure area – ideal for artistic and recreational pursuits as well as retirement. This soon lead to a subsequent wave of second home development.”

Today vacant residential stands sell between R165 000 and R1.2 million, depending on size and location, while two bedroom houses fetch from R750 000 and range up to R4.8 million for a five bedroom house with pool set on approximately 6 000 square metres. PGP also markets a range of commercial properties as well as guesthouses.  Guesthouses range in price from R4.4-R5.9 million, commercial property is priced from R3.2 million to R4.95 million and industrial property from R821 000 to R1.25 million.

PGP is currently marketing Lake Clarens Guesthouse, a 4-Star establishment with three bedrooms, all en suite, which is well positioned at the entrance to the town, overlooking the lake and Mount Horeb. The property includes a four bedroom sandstone home and is priced at R5.5 million. Also available for purchase is a guesthouse in the main street opposite the Protea Hotel. The guesthouse, which comprises three bedrooms, all en suite plus three wooden chalets and manager’s quarters, is priced at R4.4 million.

Sir Henry’s, set on a large property of 3965 square metres with rolling lawns and a plunge pool, borders the perennial stream which runs through the town and into Lake Clarens. With seven bedrooms, all en suite, and a breakfast room, this 4-Star guesthouse is priced at R5.9 million.
Says Maree: “Business owners and residents who have invested in the Clarens area sometimes own several properties as they believe the area offers sound development and income potential as well as a highly desirable lifestyle. Another owner sees Clarens in about 20 years possibly resembling a local equivalent of Franschhoek today. The scenic mountains are a huge attraction for visitors, residents, home and business owners.”

Other properties marketed by PGP include a 798sqm stand with a 400sqm building, ideal for someone wanting to establish their own restaurant; and a 798sqm stand with 180sqm building with a well situated grocery business – with the property and business for sale for R3.3 million and with sufficient vacant land for further development. Another property comprises a 624sqm building situated on a 798sqm stand, tenanted by a two eateries, sports bar and variety of arts and craft shops. This property provides a sound rental income and is priced at R4.95 million. In addition, a trading store located at the entrance to Clarens is on the market for R1.1 million.

PGP is also marketing two industrial sites facing the main road which runs past Clarens to Golden Gate. Ideal for mini-factories or retail these are priced at R821 000 and R1.25 million respectively. Says Maree: “The first property comprises a building of 100sqm on a 564sqm stand, while the second includes two sheds and a sandstone office, set on a stand of 1750sqm. With three phase electricity and spectacular views this property is ideal for someone who wishes to relocate to the area and perhaps establish a carpentry workshop, ceramics gallery, hair salon, coffee shop, art studio, or a training centre. There is a wide variety of potential uses for both these properties.”

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