Amdec and Afhco deliver R580m affordable housing project

What began as a single building residential conversion project to create important affordable housing in central Johannesburg has skyrocketed into a multi-building conversion of over a dozen neighbouring properties to create one of South Africa’s most exciting residential suburbs and an urban renewal initiative on a R580 million scale.

Starting with the conversion of the former 26-storey, 47 000m2 Nedbank building at 120 End Street, near Ellis Park in New Doornfontein to 924 affordable apartments plus a 6 000m2 shopping centre, the joint venture of Amdec Property Development, with Afhco Holdings (Affordable Housing Company) has purchased a further 12 properties surrounding this building, and neighbouring each other, which will effectively double the number of affordable housing units created to 1 850 homes.

The properties include Merchandise Centre and the Frank & Hirsch buildings, the Rodi Lot vacant land at 54 Davies Street as well as the Sidelsky Lots which span 56,58 and 60 Davies Street, Mantoll Court at 49 Davies Street, Tollmans Building at 51 Davies Street as well as End Park at 112 End Street, Khan Corner at 106 End Street and 5 Rockey Street. All but two have already been transferred.

In addition to quality affordable housing available on a rental basis, this new residential node will also include a large shopping centre to serve the area’s residents. Ancillary services such as a gym, crèche or childcare facility and a supervised homework room for high school pupils is being carefully considered. Much of this will be located at the catalyst and heart of this precinct, 120 End Street, which is set to be the vibrant interaction node of this residential community. However some of the newly acquired buildings will also include retail elements and civic amenities.

The project partners have also entered into a joint venture with City Parks with a long-term management agreement over the neighbouring, currently derelict, municipal park, which the JDA together with the partners will upgrade and secure for use by the public as well as residents, providing a green lung and a safe environment for social interaction and expression. The upgrade will include playground equipment for children and the creation of two mini soccer fields.

“This is in line with leading international cities. We aim to provide a quality and functioning lifestyle for the residents from the assortment of bachelor, one- and two-bedroom apartments allowing for improved lifestyles,” explains Amdec Gauteng Regional Director, Nicholas Stopforth.

Amdec, who drove the development roll out of the mixed-use Melrose Arch precinct in Johannesburg, is behind this new affordable housing neighbourhood.

“The needs of the affordable housing market are the same as their more-resourced counterparts and can be met on the appropriate economic scale,” says Stopforth.

Stopforth explains that affordable housing represents the gap in the market between subsidised housing and middle income housing. “The convergence of South African society has resulted in a burgeoning middle class who have nowhere to live,” says Stopforth.

“As well as being a commercially viable financial investment, we see the construction of affordable housing as an important part of Amdec’s social investment. We need to provide enough housing stock for these hard working people,” Stopforth notes.

Rentals at 120 End Street are set between R1 600 and R3 000 per month.

“We believe that Amdec, together with similar development companies, can provide a socially responsible approach to building affordable housing in a commercially viable manner,” says Stopforth.

Afhco reports that the first residents of this community will be moving into 120 End Street, which is set to be the heart of this new residential node early next year, as the apartments are phased onto the market, with the first being on the 26th to 15th floors, then working down.

“Based on the strong demand for affordable housing, we are expecting all the units to fill as soon as they become available,” says Afhco’s Renney Plit.

This new residential community is also situated in a thriving redevelopment and urban renewal zone, which will see the upliftment and rejuvenation of buildings, streets, facilities including the comprehensive upgrade of the adjoining New Doornfontein Station. Major redevelopment of the public space by the JDA and Council has already begun in line with 2010 objectives.
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