R200m Rosebank office-to-residential conversion meets a high-demand gap in the market

Artist’s impression of The Bolton, Emira Property Fund’s value-enhancing conversion of its Rosebank office property assets formerly occupied by Sasol into a contemporary residential apartment development.

Emira Property Fund’s value-enhancing conversion of its Rosebank office property assets formerly occupied by Sasol into a contemporary residential apartment development, The Bolton, caters to a demand for residential accommodation for working millennials in this bustling business node.

The major redevelopment responds to Rosebank’s anticipated oversupply of office space and current undersupply of residential accommodation, says Emira chief executive, Geoff Jennett.

“When considering the future of these assets to determine their best use, our strategy for converting the building from offices to residential apartments was an opportunity to unlock value and relevance from the properties. It responds to its location and its community’s needs. It also increases the diversity of our property portfolio while reducing Emira’s exposure to the office sector.

“The 280 new apartments target the middle LSM rental market and add a sustainable and affordable residential accommodation to the Rosebank area. It plugs into the area’s extensive social, retail and transport infrastructure.”

Development manager at Emira, Justin Bowen, explains: “The Bolton caters for a niche residential market that is underserviced in Rosebank, which is a transport and business hub surrounded by and home to many people-intensive businesses driving a huge demand for residential property.

“Currently, the only accommodation available in the area is either very old or very expensive. The Bolton is the only new residential development in the vicinity that targets younger working professionals in a modern living environment. No other developments are targeting this sector, which will allow for the development of an inclusive, multispectral mix of people.”

Bowen adds: “With the growing trend of urbanisation, our cities need to offer a range of accommodation and The Bolton is designed to meet a very definite need while enhancing residential diversity in Rosebank.”

Emira is a JSE-listed REIT that is invested in a portfolio of office, retail and industrial properties. Its assets comprise 135 properties valued at R13.3 billion. Emira is also internationally diversified through its direct interest in ASX-listed Growthpoint Properties Australia (GOZ).

However, this is its first foray into the residential sector, so Emira is partnering with experienced experts in the residential development space, Feenstra Group and HB Realty.

Construction on the R200m The Bolton project began in September this year. Once the individual units have been constructed and their finishes added, the first apartments are expected to welcome residents from mid to end-2018.

The Bolton is highly visible on Bolton Road and is across the road from the Rosebank Mall, which also links to several other retail and hotel properties. This will give its residents superb access to amenities, says Bowen.

“The Bolton is close to shopping, banking, gym, leisure, restaurant, hospitality, and medical facilities, and more. It provides residents with the benefits of an authentic modern live-work-play urban environment.

“Because it is a short stroll from the Rosebank Gautrain Station, it provides easy access for those who work in Rosebank, and along the high-speed train’s route to Joburg, Sandton, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria Hatfield or around the OR Tambo International Airport.”

The apartments are a mix of bachelor, one- and two-bedroom units on four levels, which range in size from roughly 30m2 to 60m2. There are 306 parking bays and spectacular views from the rooftop.

Monthly rentals range from R6 000 for bachelor flats to R10 000 for two-bedroom units.

Bowen says: “Conversion projects are always challenging, but they reinvent and reinvigorate the buildings, extending their life cycles and giving them new relevance. This could be viewed as the ultimate in recycling and sustainable property development as we are reusing the existing external structures. This reduces the time and the cost of the embodied carbon of the original structures, decreasing the building’s carbon footprint.”

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